Field of Science

Trio of New Early Jurassic Sauropodomorph Dinosaur Papers

Sertich, J. J. W., and M. A. Loewen. 2010. A New Basal Sauropodomorph Dinosaur from the Lower Jurassic Navajo Sandstone of Southern Utah. PLoS ONE 5(3): e9789. doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0009789


Basal sauropodomorphs, or ‘prosauropods,’ are a globally widespread paraphyletic assemblage of terrestrial herbivorous dinosaurs from the Late Triassic and Early Jurassic. In contrast to several other landmasses, the North American record of sauropodomorphs during this time interval remains sparse, limited to Early Jurassic occurrences of a single well known taxon from eastern North America and several fragmentary specimens from western North America.

Methodology/Principal Findings: On the basis of a partial skeleton, we describe here a new basal sauropodomorph dinosaur from the Lower Jurassic Navajo Sandstone of southern Utah, Seitaad ruessi gen. et sp. nov. The partially articulated skeleton of Seitaad was likely buried post-mortem in the base of a collapsed dune foreset. The new taxon is characterized by a plate-like medial process of the scapula, a prominent proximal expansion of the deltopectoral crest of the humerus, a strongly inclined distal articular surface of the radius, and a proximally and laterally hypertrophied proximal metacarpal I.

Conclusions/Significance: Phylogenetic analysis recovers Seitaad as a derived basal sauropodomorph closely related to plateosaurid or massospondylid ‘prosauropods’ and its presence in western North America is not unexpected for a member of this highly cosmopolitan clade. This occurrence represents one of the most complete vertebrate body fossil specimens yet recovered from the Navajo Sandstone and one of the few basal sauropodomorph taxa currently known from North America.

Knoll, F. 2010. A primitive sauropodomorph from the upper Elliot Formation of Lesotho. Geological Magazine early online doi:10.1017/S001675681000018X

Abstract –
A well-preserved, articulated dinosaur skeleton from southern Africa is described. The specimen comes from the upper Elliot Formation (?Hettangian) of Ha Ralekoala (Lesotho) and represents a new species: Ignavusaurus rachelis genus et species nova. A cladistic analysis suggests that Ignavusaurus is more derived than Thecodontosaurus–Pantydraco, but more primitive than Efraasia. Ignavusaurus indeed shares a number of unambiguous synapomorphies with the taxa more derived than Thecodontosaurus–Pantydraco, such as a fully open acetabulum, but it is more plesiomorphic than Efraasia and more derived sauropodomorphs as shown by the evidence of, for instance, the distal extremity of its tibia that is is longer (cranio-caudally) than wide (latero-medially). The discovery of Ignavusaurus increases the known diversity of the early sauropodomorph fauna of the upper Elliot
Formation, which stands as one of the richest horizons in the world in this respect.

Bandyopadhyay, S., Gillette, D. D., Ray, S., and D. P. Sengupta. 2010. Osteology of Barapasaurus tagorei (Dinosauria: Sauropoda) from the Early Jurassic of India.
Palaeontology early online doi: 10.1111/j.1475-4983.2010.00933.x

Abstract -
The sauropod dinosaur, Barapasaurus tagorei, is known from the Early Jurassic Kota Formation (Sinemurian to Pliensbachian) of India. The taxon is represented by c. 300 bones that were found associated with large fossilized tree trunks and were collected from the interface of sandstone and mudstone units covering an area of c. 276 meters squared. The collection includes one partial skeleton; most of the remainder of the bones were disarticulated, disassociated and dispersed, but taphonomic analysis permits recognition of associated elements comprising several individuals. Skeletal anatomy of Barapasaurus includes several teeth, vertebrae from the caudal cervicals rearward to the terminal caudals, and most elements of the appendicular skeleton. Barapasaurus is characterized by spoon-shaped teeth with bulbous bases and grooves on the anterolabial and posterolingual sides of the crown, coarse tubercles on the carina, acamerate cranial and dorsal vertebrae, lateral laminae of the middle and caudal dorsal neural spines composed of spinodiapophyseal and spinopostzygapophyseal laminae, neural canal of the mid-dorsal vertebrae opens dorsally through a narrow slit into a large cavity and sacrum with four co-ossified vertebrae. Phylogenetic analysis reveals that Barapasaurus is basal in comparison with Vulcanodon and is removed from Eusauropoda.

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