Tuesday, 17 December 2013

A new species of Titanosaur from the Early Cretaceous of northern Texas.

Sauropod dinosaurs were massive, long-necked, long-tailed creatures that have long been regarded as the largest land animals ever to have lived. They reached their most diverse in the Late Jurassic, with only two groups surviving into the Cretaceous, and only one of those groups and only one of those groups surviving till the end of the period. However the group that did, the Titanosaurs, grew to become the very largest of the group, with the largest known, Argentinosaurus reaching an estimated weight of 78 000 kg.

In a paper published in the Journal of Systematic Palaeontology on 30 November 2012, Michael D’Emic of the Museum of Paleontology and Department of Geological Sciences at the University of Michigan and the Department of Geology and Geography at Georgia Southern University describes a new species of Titanosaur from the Early Cretaceous Trinity Group at Walnut Creek in Wise County, Texas, as part of a wider review of Sauropod Dinosaurs from the Trinity Group of Texas and Oklahoma.

The new Sauropod is named Astrophocaudia slaughteri, where 'Astrophocaudia' means 'non-turning tail' and 'slaughteri' honours Robert Slaughter of the Southern Methodist University, who excavated the specimen from which the species is described in 1969. The description is based upon a single tooth plus  a number of vertebrae, fragmentary vertebrae and other fragmentary bones. 

Selected vertebrae of the holotypic anterior-middle caudal vertebral series of Astrophocaudia slaughteri in: (A) left lateral; (B) anterior; and (C) posterior views. Numbers below each vertebra indicate its likely position in the caudal sequence. The 10th caudal vertebra is reversed in (A). Dashed lines indicate missing bone. Scale bar is 10 cm. D'Emic (2012).

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