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Elaphrosaurus, to which Spinostropheus was closely related (Wikimedia Commons)


Spinostropheus (Greek for "spined vertebrae"); pronounced SPY-no-STROH-fee-us


Woodlands of Africa

Historical Period:

Late Jurassic (150 million years ago)

Size and Weight:

About 12 feet long and a few hundred pounds



Distinguishing Characteristics:

Small size; bipedal posture


About Spinostropheus:

Spinostropheus is more interesting for what it reveals about how paleontology works than for how it lived (details of which are rather vague, anyway). For years, this small, two-legged dinosaur was thought to be a species of Elaphrosaurus, a genus of early theropod closely allied with Ceratosaurus; then further study classified it as an early abelisaur (and thus more closely related to large theropods like Abelisaurus), and then upon even further examination it was classified once more as a close relative of, but distinct genus from, Elaphrosaurus, and given its present name. Any questions?

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