Saltopus is one the earliest known dinosaurs. It was a
carnivore (meat-eater) that lived in the
about 225 to 222 million years ago.
Its fossils were found
in Scotland by Friedrich von Huene in
Saltopus was about 2 feet (60 centimeters) in length,
and only weighed around 2 pounds (1 kilogram).
The fossils of
Saltopus that have so far been found are incomplete (mostly consisting of hind limb
fragments), so some information
about the creature is uncertain. However, it is believed that Saltopus was bipedal,
had five-fingered hands, and a mouth full of sharp teeth. Saltopus is believed to have
eaten insects, and perhaps scavenged meat from animal carcasses. It is also thought
to have been a fast-runner.
classified as a
Theropod dinosaur, some scientists have recently
argued that Saltopus may not have been a dinosaur at all - but a close relative of the
earliest dinosaurs (a "dinosauriform"). Knowing how to
is of course difficult, because the fossils
which we have so far found, are incomplete.
Saltopus was a member of the Saurischia ("lizard-hipped") order of dinosaurs. What this means, is that although Saltopus was not closely related to lizards, it did have similarly shaped pelvic bones.
Saltopus was a Theropod - a member of a group of related bipedal dinosaurs that included the ancestors of birds (although Saltopus was not itself an ancestor of birds). However, some scientists have suggested that Saltopus may not actually be a Theropod dinosaur, nor even a dinosaur at all - but could be a dinosaur relative ("dinosauriform").
Saltopus lived between about 225 million years ago and 222 million years ago, during the Triassic period.
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