One of the most fascinating things about dinosaurs might be all the unanswered questions people have about them. Scientists can make educated assumptions from the evidence left behind and yet there are always other possibilities. Mankind may never really know all the answers about specific dinosaurs, but the study is amazing.
The Anchisaurus was one of the earliest dinosaur skeletons found in North America. In 1818, the partial skeleton was found in Connecticut. At the time of the find, it was believed to be a human skeleton. Eventually it was determined that it was a dinosaur and the identification process began.
Mr. Edward Hitchcock confirmed that the skeletal remains were truly that of a dinosaur and gave the name Megadactylus polyzelus to identify the dinosaur. Unbeknown to Mr. Hitchcock, this name had already been used to identify another class of dinosaur. In 1885, after Mr. Hitchcock had passed away, Charles Marsh, a renowned palaeontologist, was given the task of renaming the dinosaur.
There was a bit of controversy over naming Anchisaurus. There were questions about whether this skeleton was a prosauropod or a sauropodomorph. Identifying a dinosaur is not an easy task. It is about putting clues together and coming up with the best match.
The Anchisaurus had long and narrow feet. The teeth of this dinosaur were blunt and spread apart. This would indicate that they were herbivores. Another clue to their main source of food would have been the large area for the gut. Most herbivores have stomachs that are divided into chambers that take more room. A good example would be a cow that uses the process of chewing cud.
Another clue to the kind of dinosaur that has been found is how the eyes are set in the skull. This is another fact that makes the Anchisaurus a little more interesting. The eyes are set more to the front of the skull like that of a carnivor. Could it be that the Anchisaurus was evolving into something different? No one really knows.
The other thing that is still a bit of a mystery is that the reversed front digit of the Anchisaurus appears to have a claw that has been sharpened more than necessary to eat plants. So in the evolution loop, does that mean the species was changing so that eating meat would be an option or were they carnivores in the past? It is a mystery.
According to the staff at Animal Planet, the Anchisaurus comes from the early Jurassic period. Their Order, Suborder and Family are as follows: Saurischia, Sauropodomorpha, Anchisauridae,
Anchisaurus translates to near lizard. This dinosaur was not extremely large. It is estimated that this type of dinosaur grew to about two meters (six and a half feet) in length. They probably averaged about .9 meters (three feet) in height and weighed about 27 kg (60 pounds).
It is pretty clear that paleontology does not give exact answers. There are fossils and skeletons to research, but no one who is currently living on the planet has studied or even seen a living dinosaur. They can estimate, make educated assumptions and test the materials that are found, but as with any dinosaur, there are still things that no one really knows about the Anchisaurus.