Baryonyx was a carnivore (meat-eater) that lived in the early
million years ago,
and probably elsewhere in
It was about 20 feet (6.1 meters) long and probably weighed over 2
Baryonyx is known to have eaten fish as
a fossilized meal containing
fish remains was found in its stomach - and was for a long time the
only known fish-eating dinosaur
(scientists now believe that
ate fish too).
Baryonyx was an unusual dinosaur in a several ways:
It has a very narrow skull, with many small pointed teeth, many
more than its relatives, the other Theropod dinosaurs:
Baryonyx's teeth included 64 teeth in the lower jaw ("mandible") and
32 larger teeth in the upper jaw ("maxilla"). Additionally, the
upper jaw contained a sharp angle near the snout that help to prevent
prey from escaping (a similar feature is founded in crocodiles for this purpose).
It did not have a flexible neck like other Theropod dinosaurs.
Furthermore, Baryonyx's head was set an acute angle to the neck, rather than
the 90 degree angle found in other dinosaurs.
A huge curved claw, about 1 foot (30 centimeters) long, was found with the
fossil Baryonyx. It is not
certain if this claw was attached to the front or rear feet. It is possible
that Baryonyx used this claw to hook fish out of water, while hunting on
riverbanks. In any case, Baryonyx was named for this claw, Baryonyx
means "heavy claw".
The first example was discovered by
William Walker, who, in 1983,
came across an enormous claw sticking out of the side
of a clay pit near Dorking, Surrey in England.
About 70% of the skeleton, including the skull, as well as the fossilized
remains of its last meal inside the rib cage (which is how we know it ate fish),
was recovered from this
find, and this provided a lot of detail to researchers. (This particular
specimen is now located in the
Natural History Museum in
Subsequently, further Baryonyx fossils were found in Spain.
These principally consisted of a partial skull and some fossil tracks.
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