The discovery, made in 1972 in Zimbabwe (Africa), shocked the scientific world. The fossil lizard Vulcanodon was not just another early Triassic dinosaur species with a gregarious lifestyle. It is possible that this creature was much more interesting from a scientific point of view.
Apparently, Vulcanodon belonged to the sauropod family a group of giant herbivorous dinosaurs that lived on Earth about 195 million years ago. However, there is a possibility that he could belong to an earlier group called prosauropods, who lived on the planet much earlier from 195 to 230 million years ago. Wouldn’t it happen that Vulcanodon was a missing evolutionary link?
In size, the volcanic corresponded to the Zaproopodam, but in the structure of its hips it should be attributed to the proseworships that were smaller. Therefore, scientists came to the conclusion that Vulcanodon, perhaps, was a transitional link from prostrospins to real buildings-one of the largest living creatures that have ever lived on earth
The problem with the tooth
When the petrified headless skeleton of Vulcanodon was first excavated, scientists found a small sharp tooth next to him, the edges of which resembled knives for cutting meat. At first, paleontologists decided that the tooth belonged to this particular dinosaur and, accordingly, the dinosaur was carnivorous. However, later they changed their minds, deciding that the tooth could belong to another dinosaur. But the name in honor of this tooth found was already given.
“Vulcanodon” means “volcanic tooth”. But scientists have come to the conclusion that Vulcanodon was actually a herbivore, so the name is incorrect.
The main problem is that the Vulcanodon skeleton was found without a head and neck. No one knows what happened to these body parts one can only speculate. The head and neck of Vulcanodon after its death could be eaten or dragged away by a hungry carrion-eater dinosaur. It is possible that the head and neck broke off from the skeleton and were subsequently washed away by a stream of water.
Nevertheless, paleontologists managed to establish that the backbone of Vulcanodon was very strong. Scientists suggest that the long neck of Vulcanodon was supported by powerful muscles. Oddly enough, he did not have cavities in his spine.
Previously, scientists believed that large dinosaurs spent most of their lives in the water, and air-filled cavities inside the spine helped the lizard stay afloat. Later, the opinion prevailed that these dinosaurs still lived on land, and the cavities in the bones simply reduced the weight of the skeleton.
Why such a huge lizard as Vulcanodon did not have such cavities, no one can say.
Disputes about the body
As can be seen in the illustration reproducing the appearance of Vulcanodon, he had a long tail tapering towards the end. The total length of the tail and neck, in all likelihood, was more than twice the length of the rounded, barrel-shaped body.
The long, straight tibiae prove that Vulcanodon walked on four legs; however, its hind limbs may have been strong enough to stand almost upright and reach high branches or fight with its front paws. Since the skull of Vulcanodon has never been found, paleontologists can only speculate based on scientific theories regarding the shape of its head.