Saturday 26 July 2014

A new species of Titanosaur from the Late Cretaceous of northwestern Madagascar.

Titanosaurs were the dominant group of Sauropod Dinosaurs in many Late Cretaceous faunas. The group included the very largest Sauropods, and therefore also the very largest known land animals of any type. Titanosaur remains were first found in Madagascar in the 1890s, though the first species from Madagascar, Rapetosaurus krausei, was not formally described until 2001. It has been widely accepted for some time that a second species of Titanosaur was present in Madagascar, but this is known only from fragmentary remains and has not been formally described until now.

In a paper published in the Journal of Vertebrate Palaeontology on 6 May 2014, Kristina Curry Rogers of the Biology and Geology Departments at Macalester College in St. Paul, Minnesota, and Jeffrey Wilson of the Museum of Paleontology and Department of Earth & Environmental Sciences at the University of Michigan formally describe a second species of Titanosaur from the Maevarano Formation at Berivotra in the Mahajanga Basin of northwestern Madagascar.

The new species is named Vahiny depereti, where ‘Vahiny’ means ‘visitor’ in Malagasy, due to the rarity of material belonging to this species in the well documented Mahajanga Basin, and ‘depereti’ honours Charles Depéret, who described the first Sauropod material from Madagascar in 1896. The species is described from a single braincase (part of the skull thought to be distinctive at species level in Sauropods) from an adult animal and an isolated basioccipital (one of the bones that makes up the braincase) from a juvenile.

Vahiny depereti. Stipple drawings in (A) anterior view; (B) posterior view; (C) left lateral view; and (D) right lateral view. Hatching indicates broken bone; dashed lines indicate probable contour of missing bone. Abbreviations: ahc, adenohypophyseal canal; bpt, basipterygoid process of basisphenoid; bt, basal tubera; btf, basal tubera fossa; cr pr, crista prootica; ds, dorsum sellae;, facet for the laterosphenoid; fm, foramen magnum; ica, foramen for the internal carotid artery; mf,metotic foramen; no, notch; oc, occipital condyle; paf, proatlantal facet; ps, parasphenoid; II–VII, cranial nerve openings. Scale bar equals 3 cm. Curry Rogers & Wilson (2014).

See also

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...

During the later part of the Cretaceous global sea levels were...

Titanosaurs were the largest animals ever to roam on land; they were sauropod dinosaurs that survived to the end of the Cretaceous (most sauropods went extinct at the end of the Jurassic, certainly all...

Follow Sciency Thoughts on Facebook.