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Massospondylus was around 13 feet (4 meters) long, and its name, chosen by Sir Richard Owen (who also coined the term of "dinosaur") means "massive vertebra" or "elongated vertebra" (referring to the large bones in the creature's neck).
Massospondylus had a tiny head on the end of a very long and flexible neck. Its hands had five fingers, and could be used for both walking and grasping, and its thumbs were each equipped with a large claw.
Polished stones ("gastroliths") have been found inside Massospondylus skeletons. Just like many birds do, Massospondylus is believed to have swallowed stones to help it grind up tough food. When the stones were worn smooth and of no further use, Massospondylus would have regurgitated the stones, and swallowed new rough rocks to replace them.
Six Massospondylus eggs were found in South Africa in the 1970s. When the eggs were finally opened and the fossilized extracted after a 30 year wait, the eggs were found to contain near-hatchlings with no teeth. The lack of teeth has led some scientists to conclude that some degree of after-birth care may have been necessary, because the hatchlings would probably have been unable to feed themselves.
Massospondylus was a herbivore (plant-eater) that lived from 208 to 204 million years ago
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