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Aegisuchus is a genus of extinct prehistoric theropod dinosaur from the Early Cretaceous period. It is known from an incomplete skeleton found in modern day Senegal, West Africa in the Anoual Formation. This small theropod is thought to have measured between 2 and 3 meters long, and is speculated to have been a cursorial predator based on the characteristics of its lower legs. Its name is derived from the Greek aigis meaning “shield” and the root ichus meant “lizard,” fittingly describing this unique dinosaur’s shield-shaped head crest.

Discovery and Classification

The remains of Aegisuchus were first discovered in 1963-64 by French paleontologists J.-M. Moigne and Y. Coppens. The species was identified and classified a few years later by Swiss paleontologist Robert Hoffstetter in 1967. It was initially classified as an abelisaurid, but later reclassified as an allosaurid by Heinrich Mallison who recognized the similarity with the much better known Allosaurus. In 2011 however, the species was again reclassified as a megalosauroid, a family of medium-sized theropods.

Anatomical Features

Aegisuchus features a number of distinctive anatomical characteristics. The most prominent feature is its large, shield-shaped head crest, which is believed to have been used for sexual display and inter-specific rivalry. This is the most distinctive feature of the genus and is unique among theropods. Other unique features include its heavily ridged cranial roof, a pair of circular nasal openings or “breathing holes” on its skull and a pair of long “horns” on either side of its forehead.
One of the most notable features of Aegisuchus are its powerful and heavily armored fore limbs. Its large claws were used for digging, tearing apart prey and defending itself from predators. Its long and muscular hind limbs were well-adapted for running and sprinting, and its small size may have helped it to evade larger predators.


Based on the fossil evidence, it is believed that Aegisuchus lived in the semi-arid landscapes of the Early Cretaceous period, during a time when most of Africa was experiencing a shift from a wet to a semi-arid climate. This shift in climate caused the region to become dominated by savannah-like habitats, with patches of forests and ponds. It is believed that Aegisuchus mainly resided within these forest and pond ecosystems, taking advantage of the plentiful prey that they provided.

Aegisuchus two


Aegisuchus is believed to have been a predominantly carnivorous theropod. Its skull is relatively weak and ill-suited for biting through the thick armor of large herbivorous dinosaurs. It is nonetheless believed to have preyed upon small dogs, lizards and possibly even birds. The powerful claws on its arms indicate that it was capable of tackling larger prey such as small mammals, and its hind limbs would have helped it to chase after fleeing prey.


It is thought that Aegisuchus went extinct during the Early Cretaceous period, sometime between 113 and 100 million years ago. This was likely due to the drastic changes in climate that occurred in its environment during this time. As the semi-arid landscapes began to spread, the forests and ponds that provided Aegisuchus with its food began to disappear. As a result, the species declined and eventually went extinct due to the competition with better adapted animals and the increasing scarcity of suitable prey.


Aegisuchus is an important part of the fossil record because it gives us insights into the evolutionary process of theropods during the Early Cretaceous period. Its unique features, such as its large, shield-shaped head crest, demonstrate how different animals can become over time to adapt to their changing environment. Additionally, its strong and powerful claws show how theropods were able to evolve and modify their anatomy to become more effective predators. This species provides us with an interesting look into how animals evolved and adapted to the ever-changing world around them.

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