(First lizard). Sometimes spelled as Proterosaurus.
Named By: Christian Erich Hermann von Meyer - 1830.
Classification: Chordata, Reptilia, Archosauromorpha, Protorosauria, Protorosauridae.
Species: P. speneri (type).
Diet: Uncertain, has been interpreted as a Herbivore and an Insectivore. See main text.
Size: Holotype estimated at 1.64 meters long, though fragmentary remains hint at a possible 2.5 meters long.
Known locations: England and Germany.
Time period: Wuchiapingian of the Permian.
Fossil representation: Remains of many individuals, though often incomplete. Coprolites have been attributed to the genus as well.
known from other locations, Protorosaurus fossils
are most common in
Germany. This might suggest that Protorosaurus
were more numerous
there during the Permian, however it might also suggest that the
conditions in Germany during the Permian were better for the
fossilisation process to begin, therefore Germany might not have had
a higher population of Protorosaurus than anywhere
Protorosaurus seems to have been a fairly good sized reptile, though precise details to its size are hard to establish due to the fragmentary and incomplete nature of many of the remains. An upper length of two and a half meters long has been considered for the genus, though this is based upon isolated remains. The form of Protorosaurus though can be quite easily reconstructed, and as a whole reptile, Protorosaurus would have been a quadrupedal lizard like reptile with quite a long neck for its body.
In popular science books marketed with the general public in mind, Protorosaurus is usually credited as being an insectivore. However, what appears to be stomach contents of Protorosaurus suggest that it was actually a herbivore. The plant genus Ullmannia has been credited with being found not only within the stomach contents, but also coprolites that have been attributed to Protorosaurus. With the herbivorous diet likely, Protorosaurus may have evolved a proportionately longer neck in order to feed upon a wider range of plants, similar to how the sauropod dinosaurs would start to develop longer necks later in the Jurassic.
The name Protorosaurus means first lizard, though as an archosaur, it was not directly related to modern lizards. Protorosaurus also has a link with the ceratopsian dinosaur Chasmosaurus. When Lawrence Lambe first named this dinosaur, he wanted the name Protorosaurus, but discovered that it had already been used to name this archosaur, so had to use Chasmosaurus instead.
In 2009 the description of a new archosauromorph named Czatkowiella also led to the idea that it was closely related to Protorosaurus.
- About the presumed diet of Protorosaurus and a physically preserved fruit stand Archaeopodocarpus germanicus aut, J. Weigelt - 1930.
- The female cones of Pseudovoltzia liebeana and its significance for the phylogeny of conifers, H. -J. Schweitzer - 1963.
- Gut contents of Parasaur (Pareiasauria) and Protorosaurus (Archosauromorpha) from the Kupferschiefer (Upper Permian) of Hessen, Germany, W. Munk & H. D. Sues - 1993.
- A Redescription of the Early archosauromorph Protorosaurus speneri Meyer, 1832, and its phylogenetic relationships, A. Gottman-Quesada & P. M. Sander - 2009.
- A long−necked archosauromorph from the Early Triassic of Poland, Magdalena Borsuk−Białynicka & Susan E. Evans - 2009.