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What is Saurischia?

saurischia
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Dinosauria
Saurischia
Pronunciation: saw-RIS-kee-uh
Author: Harry Seeley
Year: 1888
Meaning: Lizard hip
Locomotion: Some two legs, some four legs
Synonyms: Harpagosauria (Haeckel, 1866)
[Gauthier, 1986]Definition
Birds and all dinosaurs that are closer to birds than they are to Ornithischia.
About
Back in 1887, Harry Seeley split all dinosaurs into two main branches based on the design of their hips—Saurischia is the branch of "lizard-hipped" dinosaurs with a pubis bone pointing forwards away from the ischium, towards the creatures head (See below). The other, Ornithischia, is the branch of "bird-hipped" dinosaurs with a pubis bone pointing backwards at the same angle as the ischium, towards the creature's tail.

Strangely, birds evolved from saurischian ("lizard-hipped") dinosaurs rather than ornithischian ("bird-hipped") dinosaurs and, just to complicate matters further, some saurischians (the pot-bellied therizinosaurs and ostrich-mimicking ornithomimosaurs) had beaks, and others (therizinosauroids and dromaeosaurids) evolved bird-like hips independently of birds!

Saurischia contains the largest of two great lineages of herbivores (sauropods) and the fiercest meat-eating dinosaurs (theropods). It also contains a handful of basal critters, such as Eoraptor, who has been passed backwards and forwards between Theropoda and Sauropodomorpha since its discovery at Cancha de Bochas in 1991, but which may be straddling the crossroads as a common ancestor of both.

Etymology
Saurischia is derived from the Greek "sauros" (lizard) and "ischion" (hip joint), because its members retained the ancestral hip anatomy also found in modern lizards.
Relationships
Further reading
• Seeley, H.G. (1888) "On the classification of the fossil animals commonly named Dinosauria".
• Padian, K. (2004) "Basal Avialae" in Weishampel, Dodson and Osmólska "The Dinosauria: Second Edition".
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To cite this page:
Atkinson, L. "DinoChecker FAQ entry :: What is Saurischia?"
http://www.dinochecker.com/dinosaurfaqs/what-is-saurischia›. Web access: 16th Aug 2017.
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