The Poposaurus, The Strange Dinosaur-like Creature of The Triassic

The notion that dinosaurs are reptiles is an outdated idea. Tagging them as giant lizards weren’t the fault of early scientists though. Their knowledge was limited by the available information and fossils at that time. Dinosaur remains though were well known even before science recognized these giant beasts, and in fact the Chinese thought they were dragon bones. And when the tooth of Iguanodon was discovered by Mary Ann Mantell, its resemblance to the choppers of modern iguana led to the early conclusion that it’s basically an oversized lizard. Lumbering lizards in fact. Creatures with barrel-like body as what’s presented in the Crystal Palace models. Fast forward today and the knowledge about dinosaurs greatly improved, and we now know that they are not giant reptiles, but sleek monstrous bird relatives.

But back in the Triassic age, there are strange bipedal creatures that looked like dinosaurs, but not exactly dinosaurs. In fact, they are reptiles and they are relatives of modern crocodilians. Unlike modern crocodiles sprawled in the swamp, they walked on their hind legs, like what theropods did.

The name Poposaurus might sound cartoonish, but they are one of those bizarre Triassic reptiles that mimic a dinosaur’s body plan. And people who are turned off by feathered raptors might find them amusing.

Poposaurus ilium.
Poposaurus ilium.

It was way back in 1904 when fragments of Poposaurus remains was found. Paleontologist J.H Lees described this fossil (part of the hip or the ilium) to be a body part of Paleohirnus bransoni, an unrelated extinct Triassic reptile. And by the way, it was found in the Popo Agie Formation. As more complete fossils became available, paleontologist M. G. Mehl realized that the ilium described by Lees belonged to a different species. With differently shaped hips, limb bone and vertebrae, he named this new species Poposaurus, from the place it was discovered.

But back then, the distinction with reptiles and dinosaurs was no