Happy Christmas, from gigantic Spanish sauropods... or, alas, poor ‘Angloposeidon’
During the long period of time in which the [‘Angloposeidon’] manuscript was in preparation I spoke to several European colleagues who told me of new sauropods from
The news, of course, is that one of these Iberian giants has just been published (Royo-Torres et al. 2006): it’s the new taxon Turiasaurus riodevensis from the Villar del Arzobispo Formation (Jurassic-Cretaceus boundary) of Riodeva (Teruel Province, Spain) [many thanks to those who have sent the pdf!]. And it doesn’t fail to meet the hype: it really is immense (so, the other Iberian giants that I’ve seen were mere pretenders). Turiasaurus has a humerus about 1.8 m long and an estimated weight of over 40 tons. This makes it quite bigger than ‘Angloposeidon’ and in fact one of the biggest sauropods in the world, almost on par with immense titanosaurs like Argentinosaurus and Paralititan. Furthermore, phylogenetic analysis indicates that Turiasaurus belongs to a new clade located close to the origin of Neosauropoda (the macronarian-diplodocoid clade). Galveosaurus (named in 2005, and previously regarded as a cetiosaurid*) and Losillasaurus (named in 2001 and regarded as a diplodocoid, but since suggested to be a mamenchisaurid**) also seem to be turiasaurians. That’s pretty interesting, though it has to be said that the statistical support for turiasaurian monophyly is not overwhelmingly impressive.* And later renamed Galvesaurus by a different group of authors. I will cover the Galveosaurus-Galvesaurus issue some time in the future.
** The correct term for the group dubbed ‘omeisaurids’ by some.
Furthermore, the fact that Turiasaurus is represented by good, associated remains means that it might help clear up some of the mess represented by isolated remains (see previous post: Obscure dinosaurs of the Kimmeridge Clay). Scattered throughout the European Jurassic and Cretaceous record are assorted sauropod teeth that roughly resemble the teeth of better known forms, such as camarasaurs and brachiosaurids, but also have a unique look about them. Examples include the huge, beautifully preserved tooth named Oplosaurus armatus (from the Isle of Wight*) and the unusual specimen Cardiodon rugulosus from the Middle Jurassic Forest Marble Formation of Bradford-on-Avon, Wiltshire. It now turns out that these teeth are similar to those of Turiasaurus, which raises the interesting possibility that they are further representatives of this newly-recognised group. That would be cool.
* For more on Oplosaurus and other Lower Cretaceous English sauropods go here.
Anyway, I’ll have more to say on turiasaurians and other Iberian sauropods in the future. And it really is relevant as I and colleagues (Barbara Sánchez-Hernández and Mike Benton) currently have an article in press on dinosaurs (including sauropods) from the Villar del Arzobispo Formation. Maybe some of the material we have belongs to Turiasaurus? We’ll see...
Finally, in other dinosaur news, you’ll note from the big picture above that Tom Holtz’s big dinosaur encyclopedia is finally being advertised. I discussed it previously here.
All the best for Christmas and the New Year. My new year’s resolution? To finish writing all those blog posts I’ve been promising for the last year. Controversial mammals from Borneo, the passerine supertree, rhinogradentians, giant Australian feral cats, temnospondyls, more on tupuxuarids, agamas and sea snakes, the biggest slow worms, fake Chinese turtles, amphisbaenians, and loads more on sauropods, theropods, pneumaticity, flightless birds, bizarre pterosaurs, and giant eagles. And keep an eye on Tetrapod Zoology’s 1st Birthday... Goodbye 2006!
Refs - -
Naish, D., Martill, D. M., Cooper, D. & Stevens, K. A. 2004.
Royo-Torres, R., Cobos, A. & Alcala, L. 2006. A giant European dinosaur and a new sauropod clade. Science 314, 1925-1927.