Named By: Franz Nopcsa - 1929.
Synonyms: Paleoscincus africanus, Paranthodon owenii.
Classification: Chordata, Reptilia, Dinosauria, Ornithischia, Thyreophora, Stegosauria, Huayangosauridae.
Species: P. oweni (type).
Size: Uncertain due to lack of remains, but comparison to other genera yields an estimate of about 5 meters long.
Known locations: South Africa - Kirkwod Formation.
Time period: Berriasian-Valanginian of the Cretaceous.
Fossil representation: Maxilla and partial premaxilla and nasal bones.
remains were first described when they were incorrectly included with
the remains of a parieasaur named Anthodon.
The inclusion of these
remains also gave the incorrect identification for Anthodon
dinosaur instead of a parieasaur until 1912 when Robert Broom
separated an upper jaw from the genus. While Broom correctly
identified the jaw as that of a dinosaur and not a parieasaur, he
placed it within an existing ‘wastebasket’ genus of Palaeoscincus,
as P. africanus. In 1929 Franz Nopcsa
studied the specimen,
and unaware that Robert Broom has already classified it as that of a
dinosaur, created a new genus and type species, Paranthodon
owenii. In 1978, another palaeontologist named Walter Coombs
altered owenii to oweni which is the correct grammar, and since this
time this has been the standard named type species reference for this
genus. It should be pointed out at this point that Paleoscincus
widely considered to be a dubious dinosaur genus because it was first
named by a description of only the teeth.
Although Franz Nopsca made the correct identification of Paranthodon as a stegosaur, many others instead interpreted the partial remains of this genus as those of an ankylosaur, another armoured but quite different type of dinosaur. It would not be until 1981 when another palaeontologists named Peter Galton actually demonstrated that Paranthodon was indeed a stegosaur and not an ankylosaur.
As you may expect, Paranthodon would have been a quadrupedal low browsing dinosaur, that had plates and possibly spines running along its back. However since these have so far not been discovered, it is impossible to be certain to their arrangement. A 2008 report by Maidment et al places Paranthodon as closely related to Loricatosaurus, Tuojiangosaurus and Stegosaurus.
- Observations on some specimens of South African fossil reptiles preserved in the British Museum, Robert Broom - 1912.
- Dinosaurierreste aus Siebenburgen V. Geologica Hungarica. Series Palaeontologica, Franz Nopcsa - 1929.
- The Families of the Ornithischian Dinosaur Order Ankylosauria, W. P. Coombs Jr - 1978.
- Systematics and phylogeny of Stegosauria (Dinosauria: Ornithischia), Susannah C. R. Maidment, David B. Norman, Paul M. Barret & Paul Upchurch - 2008.