Temporal range: Early Cretaceous
|An artist's illustration of Baryonyx walkeri|
Charig & Milner, 1986
| Baryonyx walkeri|
Charig & Milner, 1986
Baryonyx (Heavy Claw) is a large, carnivorous dinosaur discovered in clay pits just south of Dorking, England. It is known from a single specimen, and apparently both fish and an iguanadon because remains of its last meal were discovered fossilised in its ribcage. It lived in the Barremian period of Early Cretaceous, around 125 million years ago.
Baryonyx was about 8.5 to 10 m long (25 to 33 ft), and around 3 m (9 ft) tall. It probably weighed in the region of 2 tons, but analysis of the bones suggests that the one only known specimen was not yet fully grown.
Baryonyx is a very unusual tetanuran. The design of its hips and pelvis suggests that it was bipedal for the purposes of walking from place to place. However, its forelimbs were absurdly large for a theropod, suggesting that it also spent at least some of its time on all fours.
Unlike dromaeosaurids, the creature had a long curved claw on the thumb of each hand, rather than on its hind legs. This claw measured at about 31 cm (12 in).
The skeleton was not arranged exactly as it would have been in life (articulated), so the paleontologists reconstructing it placed them on the front feet because these legs were so powerful. The bone structure suggests a massive bulk of muscle ran down the sides of these front legs, and it therefore seems probable that the claws were placed here.The long neck was fairly inflexible, and was not S-shaped as in many other theropods. The skull was set at an acute angle, not the 90° angle common in similar dinosaurs. The long jaw was distinctly crocodilian, and had 96 teeth, twice as many as its relatives. Sixty-four of the teeth were placed in the lower jaw (mandible), and 32 large ones in the upper (maxilla). The snout probably bore a small crest.
The crocodile-like jaws and large number of finely serated teeth suggested to scientists that Baryonyx was a fish-eater. As confirmation, a number of scales and bones from the fish Lepidotes were also discovered in the body cavity.
It is speculated that Baryonyx would sit on a riverbank, resting on its powerful front legs, and then sweep fish from the river with its powerful striking claw. This is similar to the modern grizzly bear. The long but low stance and angled head support this theory.
Until the discovery of the closely-related Suchomimus, Baryonyx was the only known mostly piscivorous (fish-eating) dinosaur. On the other hand, bones of an Iguanodon were also found in association with the Baryonyx skeleton. A definitive proof, it seems possible that Baryonyx scavenged or killed any extra meat it could find. A more clear proof directly pointing that Spinosauroids aren't obligate piscivores as previously thought.
In the Media
Rudy, the main antagonist in Ice Age 3: Dawn of the Dinosaurs, is an albino Baryonyx.
Baryonyx makes a cameo appearance in the first episode of Planet Dinosaur, showing on how spinosaurids may have eaten other prey rather than fish, as showing part of a juvenile Iguanodon inside the ribcage of Baryonyx.
Baryonyx is mentioned in Jurassic Park 3 as the survivors of the plane crash (caused by a Spinosaurus) try to figure out what type of dinosaur that chased them was. Baryonyx was also meant to appear in the film Itself, but was cut. However, a logo featuring it was produced before the decision to cut the animal was made. Baryonyx appears on the Jurassic World website and is stated to be in the park, but it is unfortunately never seen in the film.
Baryonyx makes a brief cameo in the third episode of Monsters Resurrected, considered a close relative of Spinosaurus.
Baryonyx also appears in Dino Stampede.
Baryonyx also appeared in both seasons of the anime series Dinosaur King.
It also appears in several Jurassic Park based games including Jurassic Park: Builder, The Lost World: Jurassic Park PS game, Jurassic Park III: Park Builder, and LEGO Jurassic World. It was going to be in Jurassic Park: Operation Genesis before being cut.It will appear in ARK: Survival Evolved.