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a piscivorous baryonychine spinosaurid dinosaur from the Early Cretaceous of England.
Pronunciation: bah-ree-ON-icks
Meaning: Heavy claw
Author/s: Charig and Milner (1986)
Synonyms: None known
First Discovery: Surrey, England
Chart Position: 265

Baryonyx walkeri

Baryonyx—nicknamed "claws" upon discovery—liked a varied diet. A crocodile-like snout packed with 96 cone-shaped teeth, and acid-etched scales found mingled with its remains all point to a fondness for fish, but remnants of iguanodont bones in its gut suggests, like any self-respecting predator, it wasn't too proud to scavenge the rotting carcass of a vegetarian if the opportunity presented itself. In fact, Baryonyx was big enough to eat whatever it wanted to eat, whenever it wanted to eat it, and the only real rival for resources was a larger specimen of itself.

Analysis of the skull and vertebrae showed that the first Baryonyx specimen ever discovered was a mere infant, but even at this tender age it was blessed with large claws, about twelve inches long. Like Dryptosaurus before it, paleontologists initially attached these claws to its toes when they actually belonged on its thumbs, and as this sneaky Dorking-discovered critter crouched on river banks or laid wait in shallow waters it would use them to snag unsuspecting fish. This practice set a highly illegal trend amongst unscrupulous poachers in England, and if you're caught "hooking" salmon these days you can expect a hefty fine or even jail. Fortunately, Baryonyx lived in the Early Cretaceous, and the first Policemen hadn't evolved yet. And besides, dinosaurs still get bad press as dim-witted layabouts, so one that invents fishing should be applauded not apprehended.

Since its initial discovery in 1983 and subsequent description three years later, Baryonyx fossils have been discovered in Spain and Portugal, and some experts reckon a relatively complete skeleton from Niger's Ténéré Desert, which is currently called Suchomimus, should properly be known as Baryonyx tenerensis. The remains of Suchosaurus girardi that Sauvage initially identified as a crocodile have already been reassigned to Baryonyx, and Suchosaurus cultridens may belong there too. But if the latter is the case, then Suchosaurus would trump Baryonyx name-wise as it was coined by Richard Owen 145 years earlier, though its remains amount to a single worn tooth, which isn't helping its cause.
Baryonyx is derived from the Greek "barys" (heavy) and "onyx" (claw or talon).
The species epithet, walkeri, is a tribute to William Walker, an amateur paleontologist who spent much of his life scouring England for fossils but hit the jackpot when he stumbled upon this long-snouted relative of Spinosaurus at Smokejacks pit near Dorking.
The remains of Baryonyx were discovered at Smokejacks Brickworks in the Upper Member of the Weald Clay Formation, Dorking, Surrey, England, in 1983. The holotype (BMNH R9951) is a 70% complete skeleton.
Era: Mesozoic
Epoch: Early Cretaceous
Stage: Barremian
Age range: 140-125 mya
Est. max. length: 10 meters
Est. max. hip height: 2.7 meters
Est. max. weight: 2 tons
Diet: Carnivore
• Charig AJ and Milner AC (1986) "Baryonyx, a remarkable new theropod dinosaur". Nature. 324 (6095): 359–361.
• Charig AJ and Milner AC (1997) "Baryonyx walkeri, a fish-eating dinosaur from the Wealden of Surrey". Bulletin of the Natural History Museum of London (Geology series) 53(1): 11-70
• Carpenter K and Currie PJ (1992) "Dinosaur Systematics: Approaches and Perspectives".
• Hutt S and Newbery P (2004) "A new look at Baryonyx walkeri (Charig and Milner, 1986) based upon a recent fossil find from the Wealden". Symposium of Vertebrate Palaeontology and Comparative Anatomy.
• Lambert D, Naish D and Wyse E (2003) "Strange Spinosaurs" in "Encyclopedia of Dinosaurs and Prehistoric Life".
• Buffetaut E (2007) "The spinosaurid dinosaur Baryonyx (Saurischia, Theropoda) in the Early Cretaceous of Portugal". Geological Magazine, 144(6): 1021-1025.
• Mateus O, Araújo R, Natário C and Castanhinha R (2011) "A new specimen of the theropod dinosaur Baryonyx from the early Cretaceous of Portugal and taxonomic validity of Suchosaurus". Zootaxa 2827: 54–68.
• Paul GS (2010) "The Princeton Field Guide to Dinosaurs". (Page 87).
• Hone DWE and HOLTZ TR Jr (2017) "A Century of Spinosaurs - A Review and Revision of the Spinosauridae with Comments on Their Ecology". Acta Geologica Sinica 91(3): 1120–1132.
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To cite this page:
Atkinson, L. "BARYONYX :: from DinoChecker's dinosaur archive".
›. Web access: 17th Jan 2018.