In the annals of paleoart, there are two names that tower over all the others. There is Charles R. Knight, of course, but right next to him is Zdeněk Burian - the Czech artist who did just as much as Knight to set the 20th century image of what dinosaurs were like. Now, four decades after his death, Burian has a new dinosaur named in his honor from the strata of his home country.

If Burian himself were to do a restoration of the roughly 95 million year old dinosaur, he'd have to borrow from related species to fill in the missing parts. Indeed, Burianosaurus is so far only known from a single femur, or thigh bone. All the same, the femur is different enough from other finds that paleontologist Daniel Madzia and colleagues make the case that it's something new, not to mention that Burianosaurus is currently the only non-avian dinosaur known from its particular slice of time and space in Central Europe.

So what kind of dinosaur was Burianosaurus? Madzia and coauthors categorize it as an ornithopod - one of the bipedal, generally unornamented dinosaurs that are generally treated as walking fodder for the carnivores of their time. (I feel as if ornithopod and oreodont experts need to form a club for under-appreciated fossils.) Exactly what it looked like will depend on future finds, but the femur is a start and a reminder that there is more yet to be discovered about these oft-overlooked dinosaurs.

The femur of Burianosaurus. Credit: Madzia et al 2017

Fossil Facts

Name: Burianosaurus augustai

Meaning: Burianosaurus means "Burian's lizard" in honor of Czech paleoartist Zdeněk Burian, and augustai honors Czech paleontologist Josef Augusta.

Age: Cretaceous, around 95 million years ago.

Where in the world?: Near Mezholezy, Czech Republic. 

What sort of organism?: An ornithopod dinosaur.

How much of the organism’s is known?: A femur.


Madzia, D. Boyd, C., Mazuch, M. 2017. A basal ornithopod dinosaur from the Cenomanian of the Czech Republic. Journal of Systematic Palaeontology. doi: 10.1080/14772019.2017.1371258

Previous Paleo Profiles:

The Light-Footed Lizard
The Maoming Cat
Knight’s Egyptian Bat
The La Luna Snake
The Rio do Rasto Tooth
Bob Weir's Otter
Egypt's Canine Beast
The Vastan Mine Tapir
Pangu's Wing
The Dawn Megamouth
The Genga Lizard
The Micro Lion
The Mystery Titanosaur
The Echo Hunter
The Lo Hueco Titan
The Three-Branched Cicada
The Monster of Minden
The Pig-Footed Bandicoot
Hayden's Rattlesnake Demon
The Evasive Ostrich Seer
The Paradoxical Mega Shark
The Tiny Beardogs
The Armored Fish King
North America's Pangolin
The Invisible-Tusked Elephant
The Mud Dragon
The Spike-Toothed Salmon
The Dream Coast Crocodile
Buriol's Robber
Ozimek's Flyer
The Northern Naustoceratopsian
The High Arctic Flyer
The Tomatillo From the End of the World
The Short-Faced Hyena
The Mighty Traveler from Egg Mountain
Keilhau's Ichthyosaur
Mexico's Ancient Horned Face
Mauricio Fernández's Plesiosaur
New Zealand's Giant Dawn Penguin
The Orange Sea Lion
Mongolia's Ginkgo Cousin
The Geni River Frog
Isabel Berry's Dinosaur
The Whale Caiman
The Moab Lizard
Yang Zhongjian's Lizard
The Little Anubis
The Shuangbai Lizard
The Wyvern Dinosaur
The "Need Helmet" Dinosaur
The Jianianhua Dragon
The Liaoning Hunter
The Dalian Lizard
Crompton's Aleodon
Jenkins' Amphibian Serpent From the Chinle
The Large Ancestor Lizard
The Crown Tooth
Currie's Alberta Hunter
The Elephant Bird Mimic
The Crested Thief
The Hiding Hunter
The Horned Lizard
The Silk Bird
The Sieve-Toothed Plesiosaur
The Defenseless Snout