An Ultimate Guide to Gojirasaurus: The Godzilla Lizard

Leave a comment / / Updated on: 24th September 2023

Name MeaningThe Godzilla LizardHeight1.5 meters (5 ft.)
PronunciationGo-Jee-Rah-Sore-UsLength5.5 to 6.1 m (18 to 20 ft.)
EraMesozoicTriassic Period Weight149.69 kgs. (330 lbs.)
ClassificationDinosauria,‭ Saurischia,‭ & TheropodaLocationNew Mexico (North America)

Gojirasaurus Pictures

Gojirasaurus quayi, a coelophysoid dinosaur from the Late Triassic of New Mexico. | Nobu Tamura via Spinops (CC BY 3.0)

The Gojirasaurus

Gage Beasley Prehistoric's Gojirasaurus Concept
Gage Beasley Prehistoric’s Gojirasaurus Concept

Gojirasaurus is also known as Godzilla lizard, and scientists have tagged it as a potentially dubious genus of ceolophysoid theropod dinosaur.

Interestingly, this dinosaur’s name is a combination of the giant monster featured in the Japanese movie, “Gojira,” meaning Godzilla, and “sauros,” which is the Greek word for “Lizard.”

So, we have Gojirasaurus, which means “Godzilla Lizard,” and its scientific name is Gojirasaurus quayi.

The specific name, quayi, is derived from Quay County, New Mexico, where the initial specimen was unearthed.

Gojirasaurus quayi, a coelophysoid dinosaur from the Late Triassic of New Mexico. | Nobu Tamura via Spinops (CC BY 3.0)

Kenneth Carpenter chose the name “Gojira” due to the large size of this dinosaur that lived during the Late Triassic period of the Mesozoic Era.

Unfortunately, the lack of adequate fossils has made it challenging for paleontologists to analyze this creature thoroughly.

Still, it will not hurt to learn the little we can about this theropod.

Read on to know more about it.

Gage Beasley's Prehistoric Shirt Collection
Gage Beasley’s Prehistoric Shirt Collection
Gage Beasley's Prehistoric Plush Collection
Gage Beasley’s Prehistoric Plush Collection

Physical Characteristics

Gage Beasley Prehistoric's Gojirasaurus Size Comparison Chart
Gage Beasley Prehistoric’s Gojirasaurus Size Comparison Chart

Researchers have concluded that Gojirasaurus was one of the most enormous theropod dinosaurs during the Triassic period, about 251-201 million years ago.

Based on the holotype specimen recovered, it weighed about 330 pounds and was about 18-20 feet long.

However, Carpenter noticed that the ankle and pelvis of the recovered fossil had the features of an immature dino.

This means a mature Gojirasaurus could grow bigger than the estimated size, probably as large as Jurassic theropods like Spinosaurus or Tyrannosaurus.

The only specimen of this theropod was recovered in 1981 in the Cooper Canyon Formation, Quay County, in New Mexico.

The remains consisted of a serrated tooth, one metatarsal, a left tibia, a right pubis, four vertebrae, a right scapula, one posterior dorsal rib, two anterior dorsal ribs, and a cervical rib.

After analyzing the fossil, Nesbitt et al. concluded that one of the features that set Gojirasaurus apart from its close relative, Coelophysis, is that the former had a more robust tibia than the latter.

Gojirasaurus | Masato Hattori via Marchan Forest

However, another researcher, Mortimer, suggested that the tibia could be size-related, not an actual derived trait.

Gojirasaurus’ skull indicates a long, pointed head with sharp, serrated teeth, and based on the teeth’s features, we can conclude that this dinosaur was carnivorous.

It was also bipedal and could support itself on its hind limbs.

Based on the fossils, especially the heavy tibia, it had muscular legs, and although it was probably not as fast as some dinosaurs, it was a decent runner.

Habitat and Distribution

Since most of its fossils were recovered in New Mexico, it is safe to say that Gojirasaurus dominated that area and, by extension, North America.

Still, note that the fossils recovered are simply fragmental pieces, so there is a probability that these creatures lived in other areas and died in places that did not encourage fossilization.

Behavior and Diet

Gojirasaurus Dinosaur digital artwork | Sergey Krasovskiy via fineartamerica

As a carnivorous dinosaur, Gojirasaurus most likely preyed on smaller dinosaur species and other creatures that lived in the Triassic period.

Like the theropod that it was, it was most likely a solitary animal that scavenged with other dinosaurs occasionally.

Life Cycle

Gojirasaurus | Masato Hattori via Dinosaur Facts

We can deduce that Gojirasaurus, like most dinosaurs, were oviparous creatures, so they laid eggs.

However, we do not know whether they cared for their young or the adults left the young to care for themselves.

Theropods had varying lifespans based on their sizes.

For instance, small theropods could live up to 20 years, while slightly bigger ones could live up to 30 years.

Meanwhile, massive theropods, like Gojirasaurus, probably had a life span of 50-100 years.

Evolution and History

Gojirasaurus Fossils | Christopher Griffin via Large neotheropods from the Upper Triassic of North America and the early evolution of large theropod body sizes

Gojirasaurus fossils were recovered in 1981 in the Copper Canyon Formation, Quay County, New Mexico.

Several bones were discovered at the excavation site, including teeth, three rib fragments, parts of the skull, parts of the pelvic girdles, and some ankle and hind leg bones.

With these bones, paleontologists could analyze and describe Gojirasaurus, although, at the moment, several of these bones have been attributed to other dinosaurs.

After the initial discovery of the skeletons, researchers thought they belonged to raptor dinosaurs, and paleontologist Adrian Hunt christened the species as Revueltoraptor lucasi, a now invalidated genus.

Kenneth Carpenter later researched the fossils extensively and categorized them as theropods under the superfamily Coelophysoidea.

Gojirasaurus | Dino-master via Deviant Art

Other scientists like Tyoski and Rowe agreed with this classification and even deemed Gojirasaurus a more evolved species than Dilophosaurus.

However, in 2007, Nesbit et al. conducted research that painted a different picture.

According to them, the vertebrae initially thought to be for Gojirasaurus belonged to the Shuvosaurus.

This is an archosaur organism that is related to the crocodilians and also thrived during the Triassic period.

Also, it was later revealed that the tibia and pubis bone of the pelvic girdle belonged to another coelophysoid dinosaur, Coelophysis.

Cast of the neotype specimen AMNH FR 7224 (Coelophysis), Redpath Museum | Thomas Quine via Flickr (CC BY 2.0)

This means that of all the fossils recovered at the Cooper Canyon Formation, only the ribs, teeth, and skull bones are attributed to Gojirasaurus.

The leftover fossils are not enough to classify this dinosaur as a separate genus, and there are even speculations that the remaining fossils may be remains of other Triassic organisms.

As a result, it is currently regarded as a dubious genus.

Some scientists have also proposed that the recovered remains may have belonged to a juvenile, making it difficult for the researchers to give a definite figure of the species size.

Interaction with Other Species

Gojirasaurus quayi | DrawingDinosaurs via Deviant Art

Most of Gojirasaurus’ remains have been classified under other Triassic organisms, so most scientists even doubt this dinosaur existed.

If it really existed, then it was a close relative of Dilophosaurus and Liliensternus.

Another dinosaur, Coelophysis, is even more closely related to Gojirasaurus, and paleontologists suggest that both dinosaurs may be the same.

There is also a probability that it lived alongside other dinosaurs like Shuvosaurus and Rutiodon.

Cultural Significance

The head of Godzilla on top of a large hotel in Shinjuku, Tokyo – Japan | imagean via Getty Images

It will interest you that Gojirasaurus was named after the famous Japanese monster movie Godzilla.

This has made it easier for people to relate to this Triassic dinosaur.

Besides that, the remains currently attributed to this species have been placed in the Museum of the University of Colorado.

More dinosaur enthusiasts can always check out Gojirasaurus in this museum and gain insight into the Triassic period.


Although not much can be said about Gojirasaurus, its discovery is vital in analyzing the lineage of the giant Jurassic theropods.

And although it has a dubious taxonomic classification, it still plays a significant role in the Triassic ecosystem.

Due to its massive size, even as a juvenile, Gojirasaurus has set itself apart from contemporary theropods.

However, scientists can only provide a more definite description when more fossils are obtained.


Is Gojirasaurus the Same as Godzilla?

Gojirasaurus is a theropod dinosaur that lived in the Triassic period, while Godzilla is a fictional monster in movies.

They are not the same, but its name was inspired by Godzilla.

How Did Gojirasaurus Die Out?

Like other dinosaurs in the Triassic period, it was probably a victim of massive volcanic eruptions, sea level changes, unknown meteor impact, and other factors that are argued to have led to the extinction of several animals during that time.


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