|Named By:||Franz Nopcsa in 1929|
|Time Period:||Early Cretaceous, 145.5-136.4 Ma|
|Location:||South Africa - Kirkwod Formation|
|Size:||Uncertain due to lack of remains, but comparison to other genera yields an estimate of about 5 meters long|
|Fossil(s):||Maxilla and partial premaxilla and nasal bones|
|Classification:||| Chordata | Reptilia | Dinosauria | Ornithischia | Thyreophora | Stegosauria | Huayangosauridae ||
|Also known as:||| Paleoscincus africanus | Paranthodon owenii ||
Paranthodon ( pa-RAN-tha-don) is a genus of extinct stegosaurian dinosaur that lived in South Africa during the Early Cretaceous, between 145.5 and 136.4 million years ago. Discovered in 1845, it was one of the first stegosaurians found. Its only remains, a partial skull and isolated teeth, were found in the Kirkwood Formation. British paleontologist Richard Owen initially identified the fragments as those of the pareiasaur Anthodon. After remaining untouched for years in the British Museum of Natural History, the partial skull was identified by South African paleontologist Robert Broom as belonging to a different genus; he named the specimen Palaeoscincus africanus. Several years later, Hungarian paleontologist Franz Nopcsa, unaware of Broom's new name, similarly concluded that it represented a new taxon, and named it Paranthodon owenii. Since Nopcsa's species name was assigned after Broom's, and Broom did not assign a new genus, both names are now synonyms of the current binomial, Paranthodon africanus. The genus name combines the Ancient Greek para (near) with the genus name Anthodon, to represent the initial referral of the remains.
In identifying the remains as those of Palaeoscincus, Broom initially classified Paranthodon as an ankylosaurian, a statement backed by the research of Coombs in the 1970s. However, in 1929, Nopcsa identified the taxon as a stegosaurid, with which most modern studies agree. In 1981, the genus was reviewed with modern taxonomy, and found to be a valid genus of stegosaurid. However, a more recent 2008 review of Stegosauria could only identify one distinguishing feature, and while that study still referred it to Stegosauridae based on similarity, no diagnostic features of the family could be identified in Paranthodon.