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Scientific Classification
Kingdom: Animalia
Phylum: Chordata
Class: Sauropsida
Superorder: Dinosauria
Order: Saurischia
Suborder: Theropoda
Family: Coelophysoidea
Genus: Gojirasaurus
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The Gojirasaurus was a large dinosaur that was in existence in the middle Triassic period. It belonged to sub order Theropoda. It was larger than most Triassic theropods.
It was present on the earth about 230 to 205 million years ago.
It weighed about 200 to 300 kilos and was about 18 to 20 feet in length. Some scientists speculate that the remains could possibly have belonged to non-fully grown specimen and hence its adult size could have been even larger.
It was an obligate biped and had carnivorous feeding habits.
Many fossils were initially ascribed to the Gojirasaurus but in the years to come, many of these fossils were attributed to different genera. Thus, the genus is considered of doubtful origins.

The Gojirasaurus was named after the Japanese mythical creature 'Godzilla'. 'Gojira' is the Japanese name of the Godzilla.
The word 'sauros' translates to 'lizard' in Latin. Thus the term 'Gojirasaurus' means 'the lizard Godzilla'. It was named such probably due to its larger size as compared to other Triassic theropods.
The binomial name of the creature is Gojirasaurus quayi. Its fossils were discovered in Quay County. The nomenclature was done by paleontologist Kenneth Carpenter. Carpenter was known to be an enthusiast of the Godzilla movies.

Discovery of fossils
The fossils of the Gojirasaurus were discovered in the Cooper Canyon Formation of the Dockum Group in 1981. They were situated in Quay County which is located in New Mexico.
A large number of bones were found in the pilot excavation. These included a few teeth, parts of the skull, three rib fragments, parts of the pelvic girdle and also a few bones of the hind leg and ankles.
Based on these findings, a lot of data was compiled about the nature and habits of the Gojirasaurus. But many of these fossils are ascribed to other dinosaurs currently. Due to this, the existence of the Gojirasaurus as a separate species is considered doubtful.
Some scientists have also posited that the remains ascribed to the creature may have been those of a juvenile. Thus the final size of the Gojirasaurus is still debatable.

The classification of the Gojirasaurus has been a complicated process. It was classified according to the features of the fossils which today have been ascribed to other dinosaurs.

  • When the fossils were initially discovered, they were thought to belong to the raptor family of dinosaurs. They were christened Revueltoraptor lucasi by paleontologist Hunt.

This genus is now invalidated.

  • Kenneth Carpenter had researched the remains extensively and classified them under sub order Theropoda and super family Coelophysoidea.
  • The scientists Rowe and Tykoski, along with Carrano concurred with this classification, deeming the Gojirasaurus slightly more evolved than the Dilophosaurus.
  • However, the studies conducted by Nesbitt and colleagues in the year 2007 evinced a different picture. They found out that the vertebrae ascribed to the Gojirasaurus belonged to the Shuvosaurus. The Shuvosaurus is an archosaur organism of the Triassic period, related to the crocodilians.

Furthermore, the pubis bone of the pelvic girdle and the tibia were found to belong to the coelophysoid dinosaur Coelophysis.
Thus, the fossils currently attributed to the Gojirasaurus are the skull bones and teeth, and the ribs. These are considered insufficient to establish the Gojirasaurus as a distinct genus. It is speculated that these may also belong to other Triassic organisms.

The Cooper Canyon Formation
The Cooper Canyon Formation is a part of the Dockum Group of North America. It is a natural land formation consisting of stratified rocks.

  • The Dockum Group is a large geological structure sprawling across New Mexico and Texas. It is comprised of the Santa Rosa Sandstone, the Tecovas Formation, the Trujillo Sandstones, the Cooper Canyon formation and the Redonda Formation.

The Chinle Formation and the Dockum group overlap at certain places.

  • The Cooper Canyon Formation had comprised of small water sources and lacustrine gravel stones.
  • Many vertebrate, invertebrate and plant fossils from the Triassic and Jurassic periods have been found in the Dockum Group.

Kenneth Carpenter
Kenneth Carpenter was an American paleontologist born in Japan in the city of Tokyo.
His areas of interest include ornithischian dinosaurs. He has authored many books and publications about the dinosaurs of the Jurassic and Cretaceous periods.
He was intimately connected to the Japanese culture as he was born in Japan. This is reflected in his naming dinosaur fossils as ‘Gojirasaurus’. Gojira is the Japanese version of the name Godzilla.

Current location of fossils
The fossils which are currently attributed to the Gojirasaurus are housed in the Museum of the University of Colorado.

Morphological characteristics

  • The Gojirasaurus was a large theropod dinosaur. It grew up to 5.5 to 6.5 meters in length. Its weight was estimated to be around 500 to 650 pounds. These dimensions were much larger than other theropods of its time.

Some paleontologists believe that the fossils of the Gojirasaurus were those of an immature specimen. Thus they claim that it could probably have grown much larger than previously estimated, maybe even to the size of the Jurassic theropod giants such as the Tyrannosaurus or the Spinosaurus.

  • The Gojirasaurus had a long, pointed head. Its teeth were sharp and serrated. This indicated that it was a carnivore.
  • It was able to support itself on its hind feet and was a true biped.

The legs of the Gojirasaurus were muscular, as indicated by the heavy tibia. Although it was not a very swift runner, it could reach considerable speeds.

  • Its tail was long and stout.

Habits and habitat
The Gojirasaurus was a carnivorous dinosaur. It most probably predated on smaller species of dinosaurs such as the Eocursor.
Its habitat consisted of wooded areas and grasslands.

Related species
Due to the fact that some of its fossils were ascribed to other Triassic organisms, the identity of the Gojirasaurus has been questioned. If it indeed was a separate species, it is related to the Liliensternus and the Dilophosaurus.
The Coelophysis was very closely related to the Gojirasaurus. Some scientists believe they may have been the same dinosaur.
It possibly coexisted with the Rutiodon and the Shuvosaurus. It may even have been closely related to rauisuchians of the class of the Shuvosaurus.

The Gojirasaurus was very important in understanding the heritages of the massive Jurassic theropods. Its taxonomic classification may be dubious but its significance in the Triassic ecosystem cannot be denied.
The sheer size of the Gojirasaurus distinguishes it from other contemporary theropods, certain paleontologists believing it could grow to even larger proportions.
The Gojirasaurus may be better understood when more fossil evidence gets discovered.