One Of Nature's Most Bizarre Dinosaurs!
The island of Madagascar has shown that because of it's isolation from the rest of the world, it can produce some of the most unique and weirdest animals on the planet today. 70 million years ago it was no different. It seems as though Madagascar is the perfect environment for evolutionary experiments. A great example of this is the Cretaceous theropod
In Malagasy, masiaka means "vicious"; thus, the genus name means "vicious lizard". Unlike most theropods, the front teeth of M. knopfleri projected forward instead of straight down. This unique dentition suggests that they had a specialized diet, perhaps including fish and other small prey.
It is a completely bizarre skull structure but when you really think about it, it must have been extremely efficient. forward facing teeth with give this small 8 foot long fish eater a hunting advantage that the majority of other theropods lack. Long spoon shaped teeth with a hooked edge. It's like this animal had a mouth full of well adapted fishing gear. the top of its skull has textured bumps very similar to that of Ceratosaurs.
While most theropods have S shaped necks, Masiakasaurus neck rib cage suggests a rather stiff structure. The vertebrae were hollowed out and have relatively short neural spines. This suggests that the animal was very quick on its feet and spent a good amount of its time with its head down staring into the water patiently waiting for a fish to swim close enough to snatch with its hook shaped teeth.
Lastly, instead of having a large claw on the middle toe like dromaeosaurs, that longer claw was actually placed on the inside finger of both hands. Helping
M. Knopfleri stabilize and kill its fishy meals quickly. This dinosaur might have been too to think about attacking any other dinosaurs larger than itself at the time.
One thing is for sure, this is one of the most unique dinosaurs out there. Thank you Madagascar for never failing to disapoint.