03 November 2016

Dinovember 2016, Day 3

A Trinisaura stands tall to survey the winter
wonderland of Antarctica's long, cold night.
Name: Trinisaura santamartaensis
Meaning: Trinidad's reptile from Santa Marta [after geologist Trinidad Diaz and the Santa Marta Cove site where it was discovered]
Time: Late Cretaceous, c 72 million years ago
Place: James Ross Island, Antartica
Size: about 1.5 metres (4.9 feet) long, though the known specimen is a subadult
Type of Dinosaur: elasmarian iguanodont (Patagonian-Antarctic long-legged beaked dinosaur)

Trinisaura is one of only a handful of dinosaurs known from Antarctica. While there weren't polar ice caps in the Age of Reptiles, wintertime would have been long, dark, and bitterly cold for months on end. Trinisaura may have had fuzzy feathers to insulate it among the snow and ice.

This dinosaur is part of a group of iguanodont ornithopods, advanced beaked herbivores, that is so far only known from Patagonia and Antarctica, called the elasmarians. The advanced elasmarian Talenkauen, related to Trinisaura, has a long body, long arms and legs, a long neck, and a surprisingly small skull. Since Trinisaura is only known from a partial skeleton, I used Talenkauen as a guide, though I made the neck a little shorter and head a little bigger - and being thoroughly enfluffened changes the neck's profile considerably!

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