Based on a few tail vertebrae, a piece of funny-bone, a shin and a partial metatarsal (USNM 7189) found in the Black Creek Formation of Sampson County, North Carolina, by professor Carruthers Kerr in 1969, Hypsibema crassicauda
—the thick-tailed high stepping lizard
—was named later the same year by E.D. Cope who thought its remains belonged to a huge hadrosauroid.
Because of fragmentary remains it was, and still is, a bit obscure, and with the discovery of a second species aspersions were cast on its classification. These new but oh so familiar bones were initially thought to belong to a sauropod but when the dust settled Hypsibema
's family ties were confirmed. It was potentially fifteen meters long and twelve tons, which would plonk it almost in the same league as Asia's colossus, Shantungosaurus
First discovered in lumps of clay by L. Chronister in 1942, a total of fourteen huge vertebrae eventually found their way to the Smithsonian via "Dinosaur Dan" with a $50 sweetener that the Chronister's used to secure the services of a cow.
Upon initial inspection of these remains, from what turned out to be the Ripley Formation of Bollinger county, Charles Gilmore supposed they belonged to a modestly sized sauropod and, in 1945, he named Neosaurus missouriensis
As it turns out, this name was occupied by Nopsca's pelycosaur so Neosaurus
was renamed Parrosaurus
(honoring Albert Eide Parr) later that year. Unfortunately, Gilmore's research was cut short by the fact that he died shortly after.
After further study by Baird and Horner in 1979, Parrosaurus
was lumped with Hypsibema
(named for Missouri and the Latin "ensis" meaning "from" ), a move met with much scepticism, and it wasn't until more discoveries by Drs. Stinchcomb, Parris, and Grandstaff in the 1980's that the true identity of the creature was realized. Cope was right; Hypsibema
was a huge duck-billed hadrosauroid.
Despite several name changes and genus jumps the status of Hypsibema missouriensis
is anything but certain, but its fragmentary nature made it a shoo-in as someone's official state dinosaur and Missouri adopted it in 2004.
Described by Edward Drinker Cope in 1869, Hypsibema
is derived from the Greek "hypsi" (high) and "bema" (platform or step), a reference to its odd shaped metatarsals which Cope assumed made it walk "more directly on its toes".
The species epithet
, means "thick tail" in Latin.
(Gilmore & Stewart, 1945),
Discovered at the Black Creek Formation, Sampson County, North Carolina, the High step holotype
(USNM 7189) consists of caudal vertebrae, fragmentary humerus, tibia and that weird metatarsal.
: Late Cretaceous
: 83.5-71 million years ago
Est. Max. Length
: 15 meters
Est. Max. Height
Est. Max. Weight
: 12 tons
• C.W. Gilmore and D.R. Stewart (1945) "A new sauropod dinosaur from the Upper Cretaceous of Missouri
". Journal of Paleontology, Vol. 19, No. 1, pp. 23-29
. [coins Neosaurus
• C.W. Gilmore (September 1945) "Parrosaurus
, N. Name, Replacing Neosaurus
Gilmore, 1945". Journal of Paleontology (Society for Sedimentary Geology) 19(5):540.
• E.D. Cope (1869) "Remarks on Eschrichtius polyporus
, Hypsibema crassicauda
, Hadrosaurus tripos
, and Polydectes biturgidus
". Proceedings of the Academy of Natural Sciences of Philadelphia 21:191-192.
• D. Baird and J.R. Horner (1979) "Cretaceous dinosaurs of North Carolina". Brimleyana 2: 1-28.