Leaellynasaura (Greek for "Leaellyn's lizard"); pronounced lee-ELL-in-ah-SORE-ah
Plains of Australia
Middle Cretaceous (105 million years ago)
Size and Weight:
About 10 feet long and 100 pounds
Slim build; relatively large eyes and brain
If tbe name Leaellynasaura sounds a bit odd, that's because this is one of the few dinosaurs to be named after a living person: in this case, the young daughter of Australian paleontologists Thomas Rich and Patricia Vickers-Rich, who discovered this ornithopod in 1989. The most striking thing about Leaellynasaura is how far south it lived: during the middle Cretaceous period, the continent of Australia was relatively cold, with long, dark winters. This would explain Leaellynasaura's relatively large eyes (which gathered in all the available light), and it may also be a clue that this small dinosaur had a warm-blooded metabolism, since no modern cold-blooded reptiles live in such frigid ecosystems.