Plateosaurus (meaning “broad reptile” or “flat reptile”) was the first and best known of the early giant herbivores. Probably travelling in herds, Plateosaurus was able to move on all fours and could also rear up into a bipedal posture.
Balanced on its long hind legs and reaching up with its long neck, Plateosaurus was able to feed on higher branches of conifers and ferns. It had distinctive hands with small fingers and a large clawed thumb. The hands had effective grasping ability and the claw was possibly used for ripping up roots or tearing at branches.
Rearing up, Plateosaurus was also able to use its long thumb claws for defense against predators such as Postosuchus. This Triassic dinosaur was first described in 1837 by H. von Meyer. Plateosaurus is known from over one hundred partial to complete skeletons , including ten skulls.
Plateosaurus is the most common and well known European Triassic vertebrate fossil from the late Triassic and was the largest land animal of the period.