Eustreptospondylus (Greek for "well-curved vertebrae"); pronounced YOU-strep-toe-SPON-dih-luss
Shores of Western Europe
Middle Jurassic (165 million years ago)
Size and Weight:
About 30 feet long and 2 tons
Sharp teeth; curved vertebrae in back
The difficult-to-pronounce Eustreptospondylus had the misfortune of being discovered in the mid-19th century, before scientists had developed a suitable system for classifying dinosaurs. This large theropod was originally thought to be a species of Megalosaurus (the first dinosaur ever to be named); it took a full century for paleontologists to recognize that its unusually curved vertebrae merited assignment to its own genus. Because the skeleton of the only known specimen of Eustreptospondylus was unearthed from marine sediments, experts believe this carnivore hunted prey along the shores of the small islands that (in the middle Jurassic period) dotted the coast of southern England.