Lilienstern Liliensternus carnivorous dinosaur of the theropod suborder

Lilienstern, or Lilienstern (lat.: Liliensternus) is a genus of dinosaurs of the superfamily Coelophysoidea (Coelophysoidea) from the suborder Theropods (lat.: Theropoda), lived at the end of the Triassic (about 210 million years ago) in the territory of modern Germany.

Name etymology

The generic name Liliensternus and the specific epithet liliensterni were assigned to the dinosaur in honor of the German amateur paleontologist and physician Count Hugo Rühle von Lilienstern who discovered it.: Hugo Rühle von Lilienstern), who made a great contribution to the promotion of paleontology in Germany: on July 1, 1934, he set up a paleontological museum in his castle in the town of Bedheim (German.: Bedheim; district of the city Römhild / Römhild).

Lilienstern was described in 1934 by the German paleontologist Friedrich von Huene (German.: Friedrich von Huene. Since von Huene originally classified it as a member of the genus Halticosaurus, or Galticosaurus (lat.: Halticosaurus), the type species of Lilienstern was first called Halticosaurus liliensterni (“Lilienstern’s Halticosaurus”). However, the name of the type species was later changed to Liliensternus liliensterni (“Lilienstern’s lilienstern”).

The found specimen of the fossilized dinosaur bones was kept in the castle of Hugo Rühle von Lilienstern until 1969, and then was transferred to the Museum of Natural History (German.: Museum für Naturkunde) in Berlin and today is exhibited in his collection.


Lilienstern was a moderately large bipedal terrestrial predator (its body length could reach 5.15 meters), one of the largest European theropod dinosaurs of the Triassic period known to science.

The body length of the dinosaur was approximately 5.15 meters, and it presumably weighed about 127 kg. According to other estimates, the maximum body length of Lilienstern reached 5.2 meters with a mass of up to 200 kg.

Taken together, the fossil remains of two dinosaur individuals form a series of syntypes under accession number MB.R.2175, composed of parts and fragments of the skeletons of at least two individuals, including elements of the skull, lower jaws, vertebrae and the so-called appendicular skeleton (bones of the shoulder girdle and upper limbs, as well as the pelvic girdle and lower limbs).

Dilophosaurus (lat.: Dilophosaurus) and lilienstern, the tibia (409 mm) is shorter than the femur (440 mm) in contrast to the smaller taxa of the Coelophysidae family, such as the coelophysis (Coelophysis). In 1988 Gregory Scott Paul.: Gregory Scott Paul), based on the appearance of Lilienstern, stated that it could well be considered an intermediate link between Coelophys and Dilophosaurus.

Although the Lilienstern skull is known only in fragments, most reconstructions show the dinosaur with a crest, similar to Dilophosaurus. Lilienstern’s ilium is unusually short, like that of Dilophosaurus.

In 1998, based on the presence of only two fused sacral vertebrae and the fact that sutures are still visible in the vertebral bodies of Lilienstern, a group of paleontologists led by Oliver Rauchut (German.: Oliver Rauhut) noted that the bones found could belong to a juvenile or a teenager.

In 1993, Gilles Cuny (fr.: Gilles Cuny) and Peter Malcolm Galton (English.: Peter Malcolm Galton) described another new species, which they assigned to the genus Lilienstern, and gave it the Latin name Liliensternus airelensis. However, other researchers began to note the differences between Liliensternus airelensis and the type species Liliensternus Liliensterni, so in 2007 Martin Escurra (Spanish.: Martin Ezcurra) and Cuny classified the dinosaur, which belonged to the corresponding bone material, as a representative of a separate genus Lophostropheus (lat.: Lophostropheus).


In 1934, Friedrich von Huene described two skeletons, giving their owners the name Halticosaurus liliensterni, but in 1984, the American paleontologist Samuel Paul Wells (eng.: Samuel Paul Welles) concluded that the name of the most type species of Halticosaurus, Halticosaurus longotarsus, is doubtful.

The fact is that most of the descriptions of halticosaurus contained in the scientific literature actually referred to the species Halticosaurus liliensterni. Therefore, Wells identified a new genus Lilienstern (lat.: Liliensternus), whose name, like the specific epithet liliensterni, once assigned to a supposed representative of the genus Halticosaurus, was also given in honor of Rühle von Lilienstern.

The new species received the Latin name Liliensternus liliensterni. In 1989, American vertebrate paleontologist Timothy Roe.: Timothy Rowe) determined that Lilienstern was more perfect in evolutionary than a dilophosaur.

Initially, scientists attributed Lilienstern to the family Halticosaurids, or Galticosaurids (lat.: Halticosauridae), however it is currently classified as a basal member of the superfamily Coelophysoids.

Distinguishing anatomical features

Oliver Rauhut stated in 2000 that this dinosaur could be distinguished by the following anatomical features:

  • by the presence of a wide rounded ridge on its cervical vertebrae, which extends from the posterior end of the diapophyses (upper processes of the neural arches) to the posteroventral edge of the vertebral body;
  • one pair of air cavities in the cervical vertebrae;
  • along less developed infradiapophyseal cavities;
  • by the absence of a horizontal ridge at the base of the neural process of the cervical vertebrae;
  • by the absence of a lateral protrusion on the ilium.
  • Specimens and bone material

    Lilienstern specimens designated as a series of syntypes number HMN BM.R.2175, were discovered in German Thuringia near Mount Grosser-Glychberg (it.: Großer Gleichberg) in the middle layers of the Caper Stage of the Trossingen Formation (Trossingen).

    Syntypes were found by Count Hugo Rühle von Lilienstern in the winter of 1932-1933 in a layer of dense marl about 208-228 million years old, belonging to the Norian stage of the late Triassic period.

    The metatarsus of the left foot, later also attributed to Lilienstern, was discovered in 1834 in a layer of sandstone of the same Norian stage in the Trossingen Formation in Bavaria.

    In 1855, this metatarsal bone was first described by Hermann von Meyer, or von Meyer (German.: Hermann von Meyer), who identified it as an element of the hand or foot. In 1908, von Huene classified it as a fragment of the pubic bone of Plateosaurus (lat.: Plateosaurus). However, in 2003 Markus Moser (German.: Markus moser) Reended this bone fragment as the proximal part of the plus bone belonging to Lilienster.

    The only bone material (classified as belonging to Lilienstern) from later layers was found in 1913 in the same Trossingen Formation, but in the German federal state of Saxony-Anhalt, in blue mudstone deposits of about 201-208 million years old from the Rhaetian stage of the late Triassic period.


    Lilienstern was an active bipedal carnivore that may have preyed on large herbivorous dinosaurs (such as Plateosaurus) present in its paleoenvironment.

    Bone material found in Switzerland and the German federal states of Saxony-Anhalt and Baden-Württemberg (teeth) indicates that this theropod lived in the floodplains of ancient rivers, inhabited in abundance by reptiles, therapsids (lat.: Therapsida) and plateosaurs.

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