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|Weight||1.5 - 2 to|
|Pronunciation||Bah - ri - on - iks|
Baryonyx is a famous theropod. Famous because it is a recent discovery. Famous because it has and unusual jaw for a theropod.
Baryonyx is famous for a few reasons. First, it was only discovered recently. An amateur fossil hunter in England found it one day in a clay pit. It was a notable example of an amateur discovering a major dinosaur. Of course, the complete specimen was recovered with help from others. Baryonyx is also famous for having features that are quite different from other theropods.
It has several features that are a bit different from most other theropods. such an unusual mouth. The neck is also different from most theropods. Then there are the arms and front claws.
The unusual shape of the mouth indicates that it ate fish. The shape is long and narrow. It has serrated teeth, that are hook shaped. These adaptations would make it easier to hunt and catch fish. In fact, the jaw looks like a crocodile jaw, and they are known to eat fish.
Well it is true that scales and bones from the fish Lepidotes were found inside a Baryonyx specimen, so we are confident that they ate fish. The question is, did they eat other things as well?
Since we have found the bones of an Iguanodon near the Baryonyx skeleton, it does look like this dinosaur did not restrict itself to fish. Baryonyx is big enough to hunt other dinosaurs easily as well, but in fact we don't know if it hunted other dinosaurs or merely scavenged the meat from a found carcass.
But the claw on the front limbs would have been quite useful for spearing fish as it waited on the riverbank. It has been suggested that it could have done this in a similar fashion to the grizzly bear. In fact, the long, rather stiff neck could have made this stance even easier to maintain, so it seems even more likely that this is how Baryonyx got most of its sustenance.
Even more suggestive of this fish hunting conclusion are the front arms. They are powerful. The hips and hind legs show that Baryonyx was capable of walking on two legs, but the powerful nature of the front legs shows that it also probably spent considerable time using them to support its weight. This would happen if it were to crouch beside the river while hunting for the fish, as suggested above.
It was the first dinosaur to be known to eat fish, but another dinosaur, Suchomimus, has now been discovered. The two of them are very similar, and Suchomimus also eats fish. In fact, it has been suggested that Suchomimus could be reclassified as a species of Baryonyx.
We don't know if Baryonyx hunted other dinosaurs, although this possibility can't be ruled out. On the other hand it has several adaptations that would help it to hunt for fish. So it seems that fish were at least the mainstay of its diet, and it may have supplemented its diet with other things as well.