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Categories: TheropodaCarnivoreUSAChinleTriassic


Pronunciation: DAY-mo-no-SOR-us
Meaning: Evil spirit lizard
Authors: Sues et al. (2011)
Synonyms: None known
First discovery: New Mexico, USA
Roar factor: 5/10

Daemonosaurus chauliodus

After the discovery of Chindesaurus, Tawa, and hundreds of other small theropod skeletons at Ghost Ranch that helped cement Coelophysis as a valid critter at the expense of Rioarribasaurus, you may think that the area had been milked dry of diddy dinosaurs. Not so. Daemonosaurus was found smack-bang in the middle of "Coelophysis quarry" no less, but some rather distinct features proved that this dog-sized carnivore was new to science.

Discovered by a team from the Carnegie Museum way back in 1981 mingled with some remains of Coelophysis, the 5.5 inch long skull of Daemonosaurus is narrow and relatively deep with a short, blunt snout and huge eye sockets. These features alone stand it apart from all of the area's other small theropods, and indeed most theropods from anywhere else, but its most outstanding feature, quite literally, is its teeth. An upper jaw packed with large, forward-slanted front teeth prompted the specific name chauliodus—derived from the Greek word for "buck-toothed"—but they weren't just slanted they were also sharp and pointed, suggesting that Daemonosaurus was all business when the dinner bell rang.

According to Hans-Dieter Sues, curator of vertebrate paleontology at the Smithsonian's Museum of Natural History and lead author of Daemonosaurus, the features of its skull and the presence of cavities on some neck vertebrae (the only bits currently known) plonk it right alongside Tawa as an evolutionary bridge somewhere between the primitive South American hererrasaurids and Eoraptor (which may yet turn out to be a sauropodomorph) on one side and the advanced neotheropods on the other. However, Daemonosaurus (with its stubby snout and huge eyes which are typical features of juveniles who rely on cuteness for care) is known only from a body-less skull while the same-age-same-place Chindesaurus (a full grown adult by all accounts) is known only from a skull-less body, and some experts are far from convinced that they represent two distinct species.
(Buck-toothed evil spirit lizard)Etymology
Daemonosaurus is based on the Greek words "daimon" meaning evil spirit (because it was found at Ghost Ranch), and "sauros" meaning lizard.
The species epithet, chauliodus, is derived from the Greek word for "buck-toothed" and refers to the species' big slanted front teeth.
The remains of Daemonosaurus were discovered in block C-4-81 at Coelophysis (Whitaker) Quarry in the "siltstone member" of the Chinle Formation, Ghost Ranch, 20 km northwest of Abiquiú, Rio Arriba County, New Mexico, in 1981.
The holotype (CM 76821) is a nearly complete but crushed skull with lower jaw, and some neck vertebrae with ribs.
Era: Mesozoic
Period: Late Triassic
Age: Rhaetian
Stage: 209-201 million years ago
Vital Stats:
Est. Max. Length: 2.2 meters
Est. Max. Height: 0.5 meters
Est. Max. Weight: 22 kg
Diet: Carnivorous
Family Tree:
• Colbert E.H. (1990) "Variation in Coelophysis bauri" in "Dinosaur Systematics: Approaches and Perspectives". /uk.
• Sues H-D. Nesbitt S.J, Berman D.S. and Henrici A.C. (2011) "A late-surviving basal theropod dinosaur from the latest Triassic of North America".
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›. Web access: 27th Aug 2015.