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Masiakasaurus (Field Museum of Natural History)


Masiakasaurus (Malagasy and Greek for "vicious lizard"); pronounced MAY-zha-kah-SORE-us


Woodlands of Madagascar

Historical Period:

Late Cretaceous (70 million years ago)

Size and Weight:

About 6 feet long and 100-200 pounds



Distinguishing Characteristics:

Small size; sharp, protruding teeth

About Masiakasaurus:

If ever a dinosaur needed braces, it was Masiakasaurus: the teeth of this smallish theropod were angled outward toward the front of its mouth, an adaptation that presumably evolved for a good reason (the most likely explanation is that Masiakasaurus subsisted on fish, which it speared with its front choppers). Then again, maybe this particular individual simply needed to take a trip to a Cretaceous orthodontist! Masiakasaurus is notable for another reason: the only known species, Masiakasaurus knopfleri, is named after former Dire Straits frontman Mark Knopfler, for the simple reason that Knopfler's music happened to be playing when this fossil was unearthed on the Indian Ocean island of Madagascar.

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