Baryonyx was a predatory dinosaur that was in the same family as the giant Spinosaurus. This article contains Baryonyx facts for kids and adults, and is part of our Dinosaur Facts Series. Let’s learn more about this early Cretaceous dino …
Baryonyx Facts for Kids, Students and Adults
Baryonyx was a medium-sized, meat-eating dinosaur that walked on two legs. Although it wasn’t fully aquatic, it probably spent a lot of time in or near water. It had many adaptations which were likely to have been used to catch fish.
Baryonyx lived in the early Cretaceous period, around 130 to 125 million years ago.
- You can find out more about the age of the dinosaurs here: Dinosaur Periods of the Mesozoic Era.
Baryonyx was a theropod. Like most other dinosaurs in this large group, Baryonyx walked on two legs, and had a long tail that provided balance. Baryonyx had a long neck that was straighter than those of other meat-eating dinosaurs.
Baryonyx Family Tree
Baryonyx was in the Spinosauridae family. This family also included dinosaurs such as Spinosaurus, Irritator and Suchomimus.
The difference in size between these dinosaurs can be seen in the diagram below (Baryonyx is the orange dinosaur):
Baryonyx wasn’t as big as Spinosaurus (the largest member of the family), and also didn’t have the large, spiny sail of its cousin.
Like the other Spinosaurids, Baryonyx had a long, thin skull which resembled that of a modern-day crocodile. Its jaws were filled with 96 cone-shaped, serrated teeth.
Baryonyx had powerful arms, which were probably used to catch and subdue prey. Baryonyx may even have waded through shallow water on all fours, ready to snap at passing fish with its long, slender jaws. Some scientists think that Baryonyx was able to swim.
Baryonyx had large claws on each thumb. These were around 31 cm (12 in) in length, and would have been used to grab onto prey.
Baryonyx gets its name, which means ‘heavy claw’, from these long thumb-claws.
Although it wasn’t as big as the closely related Spinosaurus, Baryonyx was still a large dinosaur, weighing as much as a car, and tall enough to be able to peer into upstairs windows.
Baryonyx grew to between 7.5 and 10 meters (25 and 33 ft.) in length. It weighed around 1.2 metric tonnes (1.3 short tons).
Incredibly, the remains of fish scales have been found in the stomach of a fossilized Baryonyx specimen. Baryonyx may have used its crocodile-like jaws to snatch prey from the water, using the same hunting methods as today’s crocodiles.
Iguanodon bones were also found in the same specimen. This suggests that Baryonyx didn’t just eat fish. It may also have been an active hunter of other dinosaurs.
Alternatively, Baryonyx may have been a scavenger, letting nature – or other predators – do the hard work before moving in to eat whatever was left over.
Who Discovered Baryonyx?
Baryonyx was discovered by plumber and amateur fossil hunter William J. Walker in 1983. He found a large, fossilized claw while searching in a clay pit near Dorking, in southern England. Realizing that the fossil was an important find, he contacted the Natural History Museum in London. The museum sent a team of experts to uncover the rest of the skeleton.
Some of the bones that make up the specimen found by Walker are shown below.
The species was named Baryonyx walkeri in honor of its discoverer. It was the first large Cretaceous theropod to be discovered. Other Baryonyx specimens have since been found in England, Spain and Portugal.
Top Ten Baryonyx Facts for Kids
- Baryonyx is a member of the Spinosauridae family, and a close relation of Spinosaurus.
- Baryonyx was a theropod, a large group of two-legged, meat-eating dinosaurs.
- Baryonyx has an extra-large, curved claw on each thumb.
- Baryonyx has a straight neck, unusual among meat-eating dinosaurs who usually have s-shaped necks.
- Baryonyx lived in the early Cretaceous period, around 135 to 120 million years ago.
- Baryonyx was discovered by plumber and amateur fossil hunter William J. Walker in 1983.
- The Baryonyx species Baryonyx walkeri was named in honor of its discoverer.
- The genus name Baryonyx means heavy, or strong claw.
- It was the first large theropod of the Cretaceous period to be discovered.
- The remains of fish scales have been found in Baryonyx’s stomach.
Baryonyx Facts for Kids, Students and Adults: Conclusion
Baryonyx was an important find, and shows that you don’t have to be a professional paleontologist to be a dinosaur hunter. Remember to keep an eye out for fossils: if you find a new species of dinosaur it might be named after you!