What Did Langobardisaurus Eat?

Strange body. Strange skull. Strange teeth.

Earlier we looked at the pectoral girdle of this Triassic oddity. The genus Langobardisaurus (Fig. 1) is known from several specimens assigned to two species, L. pandolfii and L. tonelloi. Both have a large skull, large orbit, retracted nares, elongated cervicals, no proximal carpals, a long torso, a great number of gastralia, appressed ulna/radius, appressed tibia/fibula/ and a lizard-like foot with a reduced metatarsal 5 and an elongated p5.1.

Two skulls of Langobardisaurus together with to scale images of them along with sisters Amotosaurus and Pteromimus.

Figure 1. Two skulls of Langobardisaurus together with to-scale images of them along with sisters Amotosaurus and Pteromimus. Note Pteromimus has the most plesiomorphic teeth.

Earlier we also looked at the giant, though still related Tanystropheus, represented by a likely deep water biped with elongated conical teeth feeding on passing cephalopods among elongated crinoids. There are also much smaller specimens with both conical and tricuspid teeth, closer to the dental arrangement in Langobardisaurus, grabbing and crunching, like mammals. Langobardisaurus takes that one step further with an elongated posterior dentary tooth (the result of three fused teeth?). It has a straight processing surface and opposes at least three maxillary teeth.

The orbit was very large, suggesting acute vision (perhaps for night time predation?) The rostrum was narrow, short and pointed, so probably not a fish-eather. There was a possible antorbital fenestra or two, as in its sister Cosesaurus (a small insectivore) and Pteromimus (Fig. 1). The palate is largely, if not entirely, unknown, but in Cosesaurus it is largely open with gracile elements.

What did Langobardisaurus eat?
The small size of Langobardisaurus omits nearly all possible prey items but insects and possibly smaller juvenile reptiles. The tricuspid teeth could have processed the hard exoskeletons of small invertebrates for more rapid assimilation. The rake-like “incisors” would have been good at grabbing tree-crawling insects. The bipedal posture and long neck would have made taller plants harboring insects more available.

Marine Sediments
Like Tanystropheus, Langobardisaurus was found in marine sediments. Was it washed in? Or a denizen of shallow waters? Likely washed in, like the one and only Cosesaurus, found stuck to a jellyfish.

As always, I encourage readers to see specimens, make observations and come to your own conclusions. Test. Test. And test again.

Evidence and support in the form of nexus, pdf and jpeg files will be sent to all who request additional data.

Muscio G 1997. 
Preliminary note on a specimen of Prolacertiformes (Reptilia) from the Norian (Late Triassic) of Preone (Udine, north-eastern Italy). Gortania – Atti del Museo Friulano di Storia Naturale 18:33-40
Renesto S 1994. A new prolacertiform reptile from the Late Triassic of Northern Italy. Rivista di Paleontologia e Stratigrafia 100(2): 285-306.
Renesto S and Dalla Vecchia FM 2000. The unusual dentition and feeding habits of the Prolacertiform reptile Langobardisaurus (Late Triassic, Northern Italy). Journal of Vertebrate Paleontology 20: 3. 622-627.
Renesto S and Dalla Vecchia FM 2007. A revision of Langobardisaurus rossii Bizzarini and Muscio, 1995 from the Late Triassic of Friuli (Italy)*. Rivista di Paleontologia e Stratigrafia 113(2): 191-201. online pdf



Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.