Monday, 28 July 2014

A Turiasaurian Sauropod from the Late Jurassic of Portugal.

Sauropod Dinosaurs reached their most diverse in the Late Jurassic, with about 180 species described from around the world. The best known Sauropod faunas from this period are from the Morrison Formation in the United States, the Tendaguru Formation in Tanzania and the Iberian Peninsula. The Sauropod fauna of Iberia appears to be very similar to that of the Morrison Formation, but with two important differences. Firstly the Morrison Formation contains a range of Sauropods of different sizes, suggesting an ecological diversity of animals with different feeding strategies, while all the Iberian Sauropods appear to have been very large animals. It has been suggested that the niches occupied by smaller Sauropod Dinosaurs in the Morrison Formation may have been occupied by other, non-Sauropod herbivores in Iberia, though the absence of juvenile members of the known species cannot be explained this way. Secondly three of the Iberian species, Galveosaurus herreroi, Losillasaurus giganteus and Turiasaurus riodevensis (all from Spain) appear to form a distinct evolutionary lineage, outside the Neosauropoda, which has been named the Turiasauria. This group is entirely absent from North America, although isolated teeth and fragmentary remains from elsewhere in Europe and Tanzania have been attributed to it.

In a paper published in the Journal of Vertebrate Paleontology on 6 may 2014, Octávio Mateus of the Faculdade de Ciências e Tecnologia at the Universidade Nova de Lisboa and the Museu da Lourinhã, Philip Mannion of the Department of Earth Science and Engineering at Imperial College London and Paul Upchurch of the Department of Earth Sciences at University College London, describe a new species of Turiasaurian Sauropod from the Late Jurassic Lourinhã Formation of west-central Portugal.

The new Dinosaur is named Zby atlanticus, where ‘Zby’ honours the distinguished Russian-French palaeontologist Georges Zbyszewski, who spent much of his career studying the geology and palaeontology of Portugal, and ‘atlanticus’ refers to the site where the specimen was found, in a bay overlooking the Atlantic Ocean. Zby atlanticus is described from a right pectoral girdle (shoulder) and forelimb, plus an isolated tooth and parts of two vertebrae (check). It shows close affinities to Turiasaurus riodevensis, but there are sufficient differences on the limited available material to merit placing it in a different genus.

Locality of Zby atlanticus. (A) photograph of the elements in the ground; (B) line drawing of the elements in the ground. Numbers refer to (1) chevron; (2) scapula; (3) coracoid; (4) humerus; (5) ulna; (6) radius; (7) metacarpal I; (8) metacarpal III; (9) metacarpal IV; (10) manual ungual phalanx I-2; (11) tooth. Note that the additional two manual phalanges are not visible in this view. Scale bar equals 500 mm. Mateus et al. (2014).

Silhouette outline and line drawings of Zby atlanticus. (A) Humerus; (B) tooth; (C) coracoid; (D) scapula; (E) chevron; (F) radius; (G) ulna; (H) metacarpal I; (I) metacarpal III; (J) metacarpal IV; (K) manual phalanx I-1; (L) manual ungual claw I-2. Figures not proportionally to scale to one another. Mateus et al. (2014).

See also…

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