Site Map      Contact

   You are here: Home > Research > Dwarf Dinosaur Introduction > Case study: Telmatosaurus
   History of the Haţeg Basin
   Geology of Haţeg
   Case study-Magyarosaurus
   Case study-Telmatosaurus
   Case study-Zalmoxes
   The Island Rule

In 1903 Franz Nopcsa discovered Telmatosaurus transsylvanicus. Found in the Haţeg region it measured around 4 metres long and is a basal hadrosaur from the late Cretaceous. When compared with the mean body length of other hadrosaurs (7-10 metres) Telmatosaurus is clearly smaller. Like with Magyarosaurus the body mass of Telmatosaurus has decreased its length to that of its main land relative by about a half and body mass by one eighth..

By comparing humeral and femoral robustness (the mid shaft circumferences plotted against length) of Telmatosaurus with Maiasauria, which has one of the best ontogenetic series among "higher" iguanodontian ornithopods, it is seen that the smallest of examples of Telmatosaurus are smaller than nesting Maiasauria and that Telmatosaurus are slightly more robust than Maiasauria of a similar size, the latter being thought of as sub-adult indicating that Telmatosaurus were downsized relative to the ontogenetic trend represented by Maiasauria. (Figure 1)

Juvenile characters of Telmatosaurus

Telmatosaurus is smaller than other basal iguanodontians like Ouranosaurus and Iguanodon bernissartensis and retains the features found in the teeth of the juveniles found in both species. (Weishampel et al, 1993). The maxillary teeth are narrow, diamond shaped and equipped with a single centrally placed ridge which is seen in most juveniles of non-hadrosaurid iguanodontians and similar to the maxillary teeth of more derived hadrosaurids. The dentary teeth however are wider, asymmetrical and have several low ridges. These are also small, but seem to be some sort of intermediate form of other hadrosaurids and basal iguanodontians. They do however resemble the shape of most adult non-hadrosaurid iguanodontians so could be presented as evidence for dwarfing through the process of paedomorphosis.

The bone histology of Telmatosaurus

The primary bone tissue of Telmatosaurus transsylvanicus consists of fibrolamellar bone with reticular primary osteon organization in hatchlings ad lamellar organization in sub-adults (Figure 2: a-b) and adults (Figure 2: c). As seen in Magyarosaurus dacus the fibrolamellar bone matrix of T.transsylvanicus has a strong lamellar component suggest that it too had a slower growth rate.


Artwork: Telmatosaurus transsylvanicus

Kindly provided by Mihai Dumbrava

Literature cited

  • Benton M. J., Csiki Z., Grigorescu D., Redelstorff R., Sander P. M., Stein K. and Weishampel D. B., 2010, Dinosaurs and the island rule: The dwarfed dinosaurs from Hateg Island, Palaeogeography, Palaeoclimatology, Palaeoecology, Article in Press
  • Weishampel, D.B., Norman, D.B., Grigorescu, D., 1993. Telmatosaurus transsylvanicus from the Late Cretaceous of Romania: the most basal hadrosaurid dinosaur. Palaeontology 36, 361-385.
  • Grigorescu, D., Csiki, Z., 2006. Ontogenetic development of Telmatosaurus transsylvanicus (Ornitischia: Hadrosauria) from the Maastrichtian of the Haþeg Basin, Romania - evidence from the limb bones. Hantkeniana 5, 20-26.
  • Horner, J.R., deRicqlès, A., Padian, K., 2000. Long bone histology of the hadrosaurid dinosaur Maiasaura peeblesorum: growth dynamics and physiology based on an ontogenetic series of skeletal elements. Journal of Vertebrate Paleontology 20, 115-129.

Latin Name:

Telmatosaurus transsylvanicus (1903)

Order: Ornithischia

Suborder: Ornithopoda

Family: Hadrosauridae

Length: 5 metres

Late Cretaceous


Figure 1: Heterochrony in the ornithopod Telmatosaurus, in comparison to its close relative Maiasaura from North America. Measurements of element length and midshaft diameter for humeri (a) and femora (b), showing that Telmatosaurus specimens plot in the lower part of the size range, but closely follow the growth trajectory (equations of the lines, and correlation coefficients at p < 0.001, are given) of the undwarfed relative Maiasaura. All measurements are natural logarithm-transformed (LN trans).

Click on image for higher resolution


Figure 2: Histology of the long bones of the ornithopod Telmatosaurus transsylvanicus (a-c),(a-b) Overview of the bone histology of the femur of subadult specimen FGGUB R.1362 (femur length 25 cm). No secondary remodelling has altered the primary bone of the middle and outer cortex yet. Primary bone consists of fibrolamellar bone tissue with reticular organization of the primary osteons. Growth marks occurr regularly spaced throughout the cortex. (b) Same view in polarized light. (c) The femur of the oldest adult specimen MAFI Ob.3130 (estimate of femur length around 46 cm = max. size) reveals secondary remodelling of the primary bone up to the outer cortex. The bone surface is missing and thus no EFS was observed. View in polarized light.

Click on image for higher resolution

Authored by Tom Baird and Richard Conium

Dicynodon Illustration courtesy of John Sibbick.
Design by ParanoidFish Website & Graphic Design & EikonWorks.
Dept. of Earth Sciences, University of Bristol, Wills Memorial Building, Queen's Road, Bristol, UK BS8 1RJ
Tel: +44 117 9545400  Fax: +44 117 9253385  Email:  Web: