An artist's rendering of a family of Massospondylus

Height: 1.6 meters
Length: 4-6 meters
Mass: approx. 1000 kg

Order: Saurischia
Suborder: Prosauropoda
Family: Massospondylidae

Etymology: Massive Vertebra
Historical period: Early Jurassic
Habitat: South Africa, Lesotho, Zimbabwe
Diet: Herbivorous

Massospondylus (Greek for 'Massive Vertebra') was a prosauropod that inhabited Southern Africa during the Early Jurassic period, measuring four to six meters in length and a ton in weight and named and described by Sir Richard Owen in 1854. Similar to a few other prosauropods, it too possessed a pair of thumb claws either used for defending itself or its young against predators or potentially as a feeding tool (perhaps it may even be used for both).

History of discovery[]




Like many related genera, this creature would grind its food in its stomach using gastroliths (large stones swallowed by the animal, much like modern fowl) since its teeth were made for stripping leaves. This meant all food was swallowed whole.

As a Prosauropod, it had the ability to rear up on its hind limbs to reach high branches.