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Ouranosaurus (meaning "brave lizard"), was an unusual Ornthopod that lived during the Late Cretaceous (Late Aptian Stage) about 110 million years ago in what is now Africa. Ouranosaurus measured about 7 metres (23 feet) in length and weighed about 4 tons. Two complete fossils were found in the Echkar (or El Rhaz) Formation, Gadoufaouna deposits, Agadez, Niger in 1966 and the animal was named by a french paleontologist in 1976 called Phillipe Taquet.


Ouranosaurus had a large sail over 2 feet (63 cm) tall on its back, supported by thick, long spines that spanned its entire back and part of its tail, like Spinosaurus, a well known meat-eating dinosaur that lived at roughly the same time and place, and the older Dimetrodon of the Permian Period. There is no certain answer as to why Ouranosaurus had the sail, but it could've been used to control heat or attract mates and scare off rivals. The sail is a unique feature that is found on only a few dinosaurs and no living animals.

Ouranosaurus was a quadroped dinosaur. Because of the thumb spike on its front legs it was initially thought to be closely related to Iguanodon, and was actually identified as an iguanodontid, but more recent studies show it to be a sister-species both to Iguanodon and the first true hadrosaurs instead.

Ouranosaurus likely lived in in a river delta, alongside the other sailbacked dinosaur, Spinosaurus. Studies show that this dinosaur was a poor runner, its hind legs evolved mainly to support its weight, rather to run fast. Its feet were rather narrow for its size and the tail was actually fairly short compared to most other ornithopods, making Ouranosaurus poor at keeping balance when running: if pursued it might've fled into water or the riverside vegetation instead. Its skull was rather flat, and was a little over 2 feet long, but it was filled with hundreds of teeth, perfectly designed for chewing tough plants like cycads. It was the main prey of large predators like the carnosaur Carcharodontosaurus, the crocodilian Sarcosuchus, and possibly the also-sailed Spinosaurus as well Nigersaurus.

In the Media[]

Ouranosaurus was featured in a documentary about Sarcosuchus, one of its predators, called Super Croc, and was shown to have been killed and eaten by one of these large killers.

It was also featured in the documentary Planet Dinosaur, where a herd of them was attacked by a Carcharodontosaurus and one of them was killed and eaten by the predator soon afterward. However, in a later episode, the same herd was seen again, browsing, while a herd of Paralititan went past.