Ohmdenosaurus (meaning "Ohmden lizard") is the name given to a genus of herbivorous dinosaur from the Early Jurassic. It was a very small (4 m (13 ft) long) perhaps vulcanodontid sauropod which lived in Germany. Only a couple of fragmentary leg bones were found.

Temporal range: Early Jurassic, Toarcian
Scientific classification
Kingdom: Animalia
Phylum: Chordata
Clade: Dinosauria
Order: Saurischia
Suborder: Sauropodomorpha
Clade: Sauropoda
Family: Vulcanodontidae
Genus: Ohmdenosaurus
O. liasicus
Binomial name
Ohmdenosaurus liasicus
Wild, 1978
Fossil tibia and astragalus

History of discovery

In the 1970s, German palaeontologist Rupert Wild, visiting the Urwelt-Museum Hauff at Holzmaden in Baden-Württemberg, noticed a fossil in a display labelled as a upper arm bone of a plesiosaur, which he recognised to be a dinosaur fossil instead.[1] The museum, founded in the years 1936/37 and privately run by the Hauff fossil collector family, displays fossils from the Early Jurassic around the villages Holzmaden and Ohmden, an important lagerstätte (fossil site with exceptional preservation) that exposes sediments of the famous Posidonia Shale.[2] These marine sediments contain abundant fossils of marine life, including numerous specimens of ichthyosaurs and plesiosaurs, although fossils of land-living species are rare, and no other dinosaur remains have been found. Asked about the dinosaur bone, which had been on exhibit since several years, Bernard Hauff junior explained that it had been part of the Hauff collection since decades, stemming from one of the early quarries near Ohmden that had been refilled since. Although its exact provenance is unknown, rock attached to the lower end of the fossil shows that it stems from the unterer Schiefer ("lower slate"), the lowermost (and oldest) part of the Posidonia Shale.[1] It is therefore middle Toarcian in age (182.0 to 175.6 million years ago).[3]

Further study determined that the fossil belonged to a new genus and species of early sauropod, which Wild named as Ohmdenosaurus liasicus in a 1978 publication. The name Ohmdenosaurus refers to Ohmden, the village were the remains were probably found; the second part, saurus, is Ancient Greek meaning "lizard". The specific name, liasicus, refers to the Lias, an old name for the Early Jurassic. The fossil, which lacked an inventory number, consists of a right tibia (shinbone) together with the upper bones of the ankle, the astragalus and the calcaneus. The bones, disarticulated in the fossil, show signs of weathering, evidence that the animal died on land and that only later its bones were washed into the sea. The tibia is only 405 millimetres long, indicating a remarkably small individual for a sauropod.[1]


The shape of the fourteen centimetres wide astragalus, like that of a sandal and not convex on top as with the derived Neosauropoda, proves that Ohmdenosaurus is a very basal sauropod. In 1990 John Stanton McIntosh classified Ohmdenosaurus in the Vulcanodontidae but that concept then functioned as a waste-basket taxon for all kinds of unrelated basal sauropods. It has not been confirmed by an exact analysis as a vulcanodontid in the modern sense.


  • Wild, R. (1978). "Ein Sauropoden-Rest (Reptilia, Saurischia) aus dem Posidonienschiefer (Lias, Toarcium) von Holzmaden". Stuttgarter Beiträge zur Naturkunde, Serie B (Geologie und Paläontologie) 41: 1-15.


  1. ^ a b c Wild, R. (1978). "Ein Sauropoden-Rest (Reptilia, Saurischia) aus dem Posidonienschiefer (Lias, Toarcium) von Holzmaden". Stuttgarter Beiträge zur Naturkunde, Serie B (Geologie und Paläontologie) (in German). 41: 1–15.
  2. ^ Hauff, R.B.; Joger, U. (2018). "Holzmaden: prehistoric museum Hauff—a fossil museum since 4 generations—(Urweltmuseum Hauff)". In Beck, L. A.; Joger, U. (eds.). Paleontological Collections of Germany, Austria and Switzerlan. Natural History Collections. Springer. pp. 325–329. ISBN 978-3-319-77401-5.CS1 maint: Uses editors parameter (link)
  3. ^ "Ohmdenosaurus liasicus Wild 1978 (sauropod)". paleobiodb.org. Paleobiology Database. Retrieved 2019-08-04.

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