Sauropoda

   More commonly known to the public under the informal name "brontosaurs," sauropods are probably one of the top three general types of classic dinosaurs most likely to enter the average person's mind when they hear the word dinosaur (the other two being tyrannosaurids and "raptors", with ceratopsids and stegosaurids rounding out the top five). Their general form is instantly recognizable: four stout legs (interestingly, derived sauropods reduce the number of bones in their fingers and toes; titanosaurians, for example, may well have lacked hand claws entirely), long neck and tail, miniscule head, and large body. Some might consider them boring, because it can be claimed once you've seen one, you've pretty much seen them all, but they are worth a second look. They were one of Nature's most amazing feats of living engineering, every feature a balance between strength and lightness on a scale never seen before or since. All had at least depressions in their vertebrae, and in some, like the brachiosaurids, the verts are heavily excavated (such holes are called pleurocoels) and even the ribs have hollowing. The largest sauropod is almost certainly not known yet. Stereotypically, sauropods lived in bodies of water, but it has been shown that such a lifestyle would have seriously hindered breathing, to say the least. Although sometimes restored with an elephant-like hide, sauropods were scaled and many may have had nonbony spines, like those of an iguana, running down their backs. In addition, there has been recent discussion about the orientation of the shoulder blades; if set more level, as has been suggested, the front end of the skeleton is raised noticeably.
    Sauropods appear to come in three or four general varieties: macronarians, diplodocoids, and a spray of basal forms for variety. Macronarians include the camarasaurids, brachiosaurids, and titanosaurians, rather conservative sauropod groups, but ironically the last sauropods appear to have been titanosaurians. Some forms are known to have possessed body armor. They are foremost a Gondwana phenomenon. The diplodocoids, on the other hand, are mainly Laurasian and African in membership, best known for being very long, lean and somewhat lower to the ground than macronarians.

<--Sauropoda
      |--Blikanasaurus
      `--+--+--Antetonitrus
           |     `--Lessemsaurus 
           `--+--Chinshakiangosaurus
                |--Gongxianosaurus
                |--Isanosaurus
                |--Kotasaurus
                `--Gravisauria
                     |--Vulcanodon
                     `--+--+--Nebulasaurus
                          |     |--Spinophorosaurus
                          |     `--Tazoudasaurus
                          `--+--Barapasaurus
                               `--+--Rhoetosaurus
                                    `-->Eusauropoda
                                                                                                                                                             
This looks very short, but trust me here; there are enough dubious sauropods to take up plenty of space.

Sauropoda: 

Taxon or Taxa: Time/Place: Comments:
Blikanasaurus cromptoni Galton and Heerden, 1985 early Norian (LTr) of Lesotho This large basal sauropod is based on a partial hindlimb (minus femur) including a partial foot showing four stout metatarsals. This supports the idea that sauropod feet shortened for strength, and the fifth metatarsal "met them in the middle," so to speak. It has been traditionally considered a prosauropod.
Antetonitrus ingenipes Yates and Kitching, 2003 early Norian (LTr) of South Africa A newly described, small but robust basal sauropod, Antetonitrus had been identified as a specimen of Euskelosaurus. It is based on a partial skeleton including some vertebrae and ribs, and most of the fore and hindlimbs. The hands are interesting in that the thumbs appear to retain a manipulatory ability, like the prosauropods.
Lessemsaurus sauropoides Bonaparte, 1999 late Norian (LTr) of Argentina Based on a partial vertebral column, with fairly tall neural arches, this basal sauropod was originally described as a "melanorosaurid" prosauropod, but seems to be closer to more derived sauropods than Melanorosaurus.
Chinshakiangosaurus chunghoensis Ye vide Dong, 1992 EJ of China This name had been floating around forever, and was mostly ignored, until suddenly people figured out that it had been published or something. Seriously, this was about as obscure as could be, usually tossed off as an unofficial name for a sauropod or "melanorosaurid". Now, though, the type lower jaw, and some other remains as well (verts, scapulae, pelvic bones, and leg bones),  has hit the presses. It is considered some sort of basal sauropod, but things are still exploding violently in that area of dinosaur research, so check back in a couple of years once Prosauropod Pinball is finished. It seems to have had cheeks.
Gongxianosaurus shibeiensis He, Wang, Liu S., Zhou, Liu T., Cai, and Dai, 1998 ?Pliensbachian-Toarcian (EJ) of China This is another prosauropod-like (?actual prosauropod) EJ sauropod. 3 partial skeletons are known, including cranial material. The tail has simple chevrons which, like those of some prosauropods, are rather long, forming a deep tail. A restoration shows belly ribs, but I have been unable to find them in the description. A second species may be present.
Isanosaurus attavipachi Buffetaut, Suteethorn, Cuny, Tong, Le Loeuff, Khansubha, and Jongautchariyakul, 2000 late Norian or Rhaetian (LTr) of Thailand One of the earliest-known sauropods, Isanosaurus is based on partial postcranial remains including a cervical, dorsal, six caudals, sternal plate, scapula, and femur, probably from a subadult individual. It appears to have been very basal. A humerus from the same time and place indicate an animal about 12-15 in length, but it is not known if it is the same animal as Isanosaurus.  
Kotasaurus yamanpalliensis Yadagiri, 1988 Sinemurian-Pliensbachian (EJ) of India Like most basal sauropods, this animal is very much like the larger prosauropods.

Sauropoda i.s.: Okay, here's the big stuff. Well, honestly, a lot of them could probably be safely placed under Eusauropoda, but nuts to 'em.
    A ?Kimmeridgian (?LJ) cervical from Yemen appears to belong to a sauropod, and other Kimmeridgian remains in Argentina are from an undescribed basal sauropod.

Taxon or Taxa: Time/Place: Comments:
Aepisaurus elephantinus (N.D.) Gervais, 1852 Albian (EK) of France This dubious sauropod may be a brachiosaurid, as its type humerus is apparently not either from a camarasaurid or titanosaurian, two earlier popular choices. It is sometimes misspelled Aepysaurus.
Algoasaurus bauri (N.D.) Broom, 1904 mid Tithonian-early Valanginian (LJ-EK) of South Africa Based on poor remains rescued from pulverization into bricks, this animal could be a camarasaurid, titanosaurid, or diplodocid.
Archaeodontosaurus descouensi Buffetaut, 2005 Bathonian (MJ) of Madagascar This sauropod is based on a lower jaw that deepens toward the front, as in derived sauropods, yet retains "prosauropod" (whatever prosauropod is now)-like teeth, with features like serrations. The describer notes that it is more common for basal sauropods to do the opposite, i.e. have shallow, "prosauropod"-like lower jaws but spoon-shaped sauropod teeth. This animal raises some questions about the diversity of Madagascar sauropods at that time, the describer stating that it differs from Lapparentosaurus and the "Bothriospondylus" complex, and that at least two sauropods are known from the deposits. 
Asiatosaurus mongoliensis (N.D.) Osborn, 1924 (?Euhelopus) ?Valanginian-Albian (EK) of Mongolia and ?China This tooth taxon may be the same as Euhelopus or a close relative. An Euhelopus-like vertebra from China has been tentatively referred to the type, without justification in my opinion.
"Asiatosaurus" kwangshiensis (N.D.) Hou, Yeh, and Zhao, 1975 ?Barremian-?early Aptian (EK) of China Just like Asiatosaurus proper, this is a dubious sauropod based on teeth.
"Bashunosaurus kaijiangensis" (N.N.) Kuang, 1996 vide Li, Zhang, and Cai, 1999? ?MJ-?LJ of China This sauropod was described as a camarasaurid, which leaves open the possibility it is actually an "euhelopodid." It's unclear exactly what the nomenclatural history for this name is.
"Bothriospondylus" elongatus (N.D.) Owen, 1875 Berriasian-Valanginian (EK) of England This indeterminate sauropod is based on a vertebra.
"Brachiosaurus" nougaredi (?N.D.) Lapparent, 1960 LJ of Algeria The sparse remains of "B." nougaredi, a sacrum and forelimb and hindlimb material, are not enough to tell us if it really belongs in Brachiosaurus, or even if the remains all belong to the same kind of animal, especially when most of the remains were never collected or are lost. However, while perhaps not diagnostic in the classic sense, it is certainly distinctive, with a whopping huge sacrum.
Bruhathkayosaurus matleyi (N.D.) Yadagiri and Ayyasami, 1989 Coniacian (LK) of India Bruhathkayosaurus is named from an ilium over 1.2 meters long, with some limb bones and et cetera referred. It was first described as a giant theropod, but the preservation is so poor other workers are unsure if the limb bones may not be petrified wood. Given the size, the time, and the place, it's most likely a titanosaurian of some sort, but little has been published beyond the initial description and its very unhelpful line drawings.
"Campylodon" ameghinoi (N.D.) Huene, 1929 (Campylodoniscus) late Cenomanian-early Turonian (LK) of Argentina Also known as Campylodoniscus (Kuhn, 1961), this sauropod, based on an unusual maxilla, may be a late-surviving basal titanosaurian. It has teeth intermediate between basal sauropod spatulate teeth and titanosaurid pegs.
"Cetiosaurus":  "C." longus (N.D.) Owen, 1842 Kimmeridgian-Tithonian (LJ) of England Occasionally referred to Cetiosauriscus, this is a dubious sauropod based on dorsal and caudal centra.
"C." medius ("type") (N.D.) Owen, 1842 Bajocian (MJ) of England Although this species has been known to science for longer than any other sauropod species, it is still poorly known (that's what being based on lousy material will do to you). At one time it was though to be a marine reptile. As it is a dubious type species for a well-known genus, and because of other taxonomic problems (see Pelorosaurus), a petition will be made to make C. oxoniensis the type species (and so I'm going to pretend it's already been done, so don't tell anyone, okay?).
"C." mogrebiensis Lapparent, 1955 late Bathonian (MJ) of Morocco "C." mogrebiensis is known from the remains of three individuals. A nearly-complete skeleton referred to it actually belongs to Atlasaurus. It has received little study, and there's no real reason to assign it to Cetiosaurus.
Chiayusaurus lacustris (N.D.) Bohlin, 1953 (?Asiatosaurus or Mamenchisaurus) Oxfordian-Kimmeridgian (LJ) or ?Barremian-Albian (EK) of China Chiayusaurus may well be congeneric with another dubious sauropod tooth taxon, Asiatosaurus, or even Mamenchisaurus. Older references may list this animal as Chiayüsaurus, but such special symbols are now prohibited from official taxonomic use.
"Chiayusaurus" asianensis (?N.D.) Lee, Yang, and Park, 1997 Aptian-Albian (EK) of South Korea This is a poorly-known EK sauropod. Like the genus to which it was assigned, it is based on a spatulate tooth.
Clasmodosaurus spatula (N.D.) Ameghino, 1899 Santonian-early Campanian (LK) of Argentina This is an indeterminate sauropod based on teeth.
"Dachongosaurus yunnanensis" (N.N.) Zhao, 1983 Sinemurian (EJ) of China Also known as "Dachungosaurus", this informally-named basal sauropod is known from at least a partial articulated skeleton.
"Damalasaurus magnus" (N.N.) Zhao, 1983 (species through Zhao, 1986) EJ of China Remains for "Damalasaurus" include at least a rib. Species "D. laticostalis" is apparently the same as "D. magnus", and may be the preferred name (at least as of 2006).
Gigantosaurus megalonyx (N.D.) Seeley, 1869 Kimmeridgian (LJ) of England This is an indeterminate sauropod, possibly the same as others from the same time and area. It is not to be confused with the carcharodontosaurid theropod Giganotosaurus.
"Hisanohamasaurus" (N.N.) Lambert, 1990 LK of Japan This undescribed sauropod is known from narrow-crowned teeth.
"Iguanodon" praecursor (N.D.) Sauvage, 1876 Kimmeridgian (LJ) of France Like Gigantosaurus, this indeterminate sauropod may be the same as others from the same time and place.
Kunmingosaurus wudingensis Zhao vide Dong, 1992 Hettangian (EJ) of China Extremely obscure (it may technically be described, but that hasn't made anyone notice it), Kunmingosaurus is based on a partial skeleton centered on the pelvis and legs, with a couple of dentaries referred for good measure.
"Lancanjiangosaurus cahuensis" (N.N.) Zhao, 1983 MJ of China This sauropod is supposedly known from cranial and limb fossils. "Lanchanjiangosaurus" is another spelling. "Lancangosaurus", usually thought to be an early name for Datousaurus, appears to be an older variant of "Lancanjiangosaurus"; the latter is preferred here as having wider usage, but with these informal names, it doesn't really matter.
"Megacervixosaurus tibetensis" (N.N.) Zhao, 1983 LK of China This is an undescribed sauropod known from, unsurprisingly, cervicals. It might be a titanosaur.
"Microdontosaurus dayensis" (N.N.) Zhao, 1983 MJ of China "Microdontosaurus" presumably is known from slender teeth, because it was assigned to an outdated superfamily for sauropods with such teeth. The name is already in use for an ichthyosaur, so another name would have to be used if this is ever published.
Morinosaurus typus (N.D.) Sauvage, 1874 Kimmeridgian (LJ) of France Based on a tooth, this sauropod may be a titanosaurian, if it was correctly described and illustrated.
Neosodon [no species name] (N.D.) Moussaye, 1885 Kimmeridgian (LJ) of France Based on a spoon-shaped tooth and usually tossed off as an indeterminate brachiosaurid, additional remains from the area suggest that it may have actually been a large "camarasaurid" or turiasaurian. However, since the type is only a tooth, it is hard to make the identification stick. It is sometimes listed as N. praecursor, with the teeth from "Iguanodon" praecursor assigned to it, but spoon-shaped sauropod teeth are very common.
"Nemegtosaurus" pachi (N.D.) Dong, 1977 early Maastrichtian (LK) of China This indeterminate tooth taxon may be a nemegtosaurine.
"Nurosaurus qaganensis" (N.N.) in press? described? named as something else? out to lunch? EK of China Known from most of a skeleton (or so we've been led to believe), this animal has been awaiting official description for a while. It is a very large animal, with bifid neural spines.
Ohmdenosaurus liasicus Wild, 1978 mid Toarcian (EJ) of Germany This basal sauropod is based on a partial hindlimb, which was once thought to belong to a plesiosaur.
"Oshanosaurus youngi" (N.N.) Zhao, 1985 EJ of China "Oshanosaurus" is another in the parade of undescribed sauropods. Its claim to fame is that it was mistakenly thought to be a heterodontosaurid, due to proximity to a mention of former heterodontosaurid (current croc relative) Dianchungosaurus.
Protognathosaurus oxyodon Olshevsky, 1991 (originally Protognathus oxyodon Zhang, 1988) Bathonian-Callovian (MJ) of China The original entry I had for this dinosaur ran like this: "Here is my favorite pet hypothesis. Usually tossed off as an indeterminate sauropod, I suspect that this animal may actually  be a very early therizinosaurian. It is based on a partial lower jaw with an unusual downward bend. I have four reasons to suspect this is not a sauropod: first, the bend of the jaw is unlike the bend in any known sauropod, but compares well with known therizinosaurs (sauropod jaws sometimes have a downward angle to the bottom, but never the top); second, there are an unusually high number of teeth for a sauropod, but not for a therizinosaurian; third, the shape of the teeth compares well with both prosauropod and therizinosaurian teeth; and finally, the teeth are largest at the front of the jaw and then become much smaller, a therizinosaurian characteristic. This animal could be either a basal therizinosaurian or a bizarre, unusually primitive sauropod. Note that I have been wrong before..."
Well, I'm here to say that I'm very sure I was wrong after having seen a presentation on a new basal EK therizinosaurian (Falcarius) at SVP. Suffice it to say that basal therizinosaurians were similar to other maniraptorans, and were apparently not pure herbivores. I now support the second possibility, that of a bizarre early sauropod. The jaw is distinctive, but we need some more of the rest of the animal to do much with it.
Qinlingosaurus luonanensis Xue, Zhang, and Bi, 1996 mid-late Maastrichtian (LK) of China Little is yet known of this sauropod. It is based on some postcranial material (ilium, ischium, and 3 verts) that doesn't distinguish it well from other sauropods.
"Rebbachisaurus" tamesnensis (N.D.) Lapparent, 1960 (?Jobaria) Albian (EK) of Algeria, Niger, and Tunisia, or based on material from sometime between the Late Triassic and Aptian, perhaps MJ of Niger An apparently common ?EK African sauropod, "R." tamesnensis may have been a camarasaurid, unlike true Rebbachisaurus. It is also rather dubious. In fact, it is usually now just chucked in with Jobaria, but we'll see. Or we won't.
"Sugiyamasaurus" (N.N.) Lambert, 1990 K of Japan This is an informal name for a Japanese sauropod, based on teeth of the "broad-toothed" variety.
"Titanosaurus":  "T." montanus (N.D.) Marsh, 1877 (Atlantosaurus) Kimmeridgian (LJ) of Colorado This indeterminate sauropod is better known under Marsh's second name for it, Atlantosaurus, which makes a fair amount of cameos in old dinosaur books. It is based on remains that most likely belong to Apatosaurus or something very much like it.
"T." rahioliensis (N.D) Mathur and Srivastava, 1987 Maastrichtian (LK) of India This is an indeterminate sauropod based on teeth.
Ultrasaurus tabriensis (N.D.) Kim, 1983 Aptian-early Albian (EK) of South Korea Unlike what its name implies, this was actually a small sauropod. Its type partial humerus was originally identified as a lower arm bone, making it seem larger than it really is. Because it was named before "Ultrasaurus" macintoshi, that animal had to be renamed Ultrasauros. It didn't really matter in the end, though, because Ultrasauros turned out to be Supersaurus.
"Yibinosaurus zhoui" (N.N.) Ouyang vide Anonymous, 2001 EJ of China This will likely turn out to be a new basal sauropod.
"Yizhousaurus sunae" (N.N.) Chatterjee, Wang T., Pan S. G., Dong Z., Wu X. C., and Upchurch, 2010 Hettangian-Sinemurian (EJ) of China "Yizhousaurus" is a basal sauropod known from a nearly complete skeleton and skull. Unusually, the name came out as a Geological Society of America presentation abstract; as an abstract, that doesn't really count (the accepted citation for Parksosaurus is a GSA abstract, but I guess it was okay because it was renaming an already-named species). 
Zizhongosaurus chuanchengensis (N.D.) Dong, Zhou, and Zhang, 1983 Toarcian (EJ) of China Not to be confused with Zigongosaurus, this is another poorly-known basal sauropod. It is based on a partial dorsal, humerus, and ischium, and is generally interpreted as vulcanodont/barapasaurid-grade, when considered at all.

Gravisauria: Eusauropoda and a few of its closest friends, which have also been called "vulcanodontids" or "barapasaurids".

Taxon or Taxa: Time/Place: Comments:
Vulcanodon karibaensis Raath, 1972 Hettangian (EJ) of Zimbabwe Named for shed teeth found along with the type that turned out to belong to a theropod, Vulcanodon is one of the earliest known sauropods and also one of the least derived.
Nebulasaurus taito Xing L., Miyashita, Currie, You H., and Dong Z., 2013 Aalenian-Bajocian (MJ) of China This basal sauropod is known from a partial braincase. It is described as related to Spinophorosaurus.
Spinophorosaurus nigerensis Remes, Ortega, Fierro, Joger, U., Kosma, Marín Ferrer, Chiappe, Dantas, Escaso, Gasulla, López, Pomares, Ribeiro, Sanz, Tent-Manclús, Faust, Joger, H., Joger, J., Krüger, Mudroch, Rabe, Ritter, Sommer, Ide, and Maga, 2009 [the authorlist is a bit unusual; see the paper] sometime between the Late Triassic and Aptian, perhaps MJ of Niger Spinophorosaurus is one of those lucky cases where you get an almost-complete articulated skeleton right off the bat; what's missing is part of the skull, the sternal elements, the arms and hands, and the feet. Another specimen fortuitously enough has a good chunk of what's not represented in the type specimen's skull. The type is subadult, while the paratype is more fully grown.
Enough of the bragging. Spinophorosaurus plots as the sister group to Eusauropoda. It's fairly late for such a basal taxon (although note that the age of the formation has not been pinned down, so it could be older or younger). Its most striking feature (pun not intended) is the presence of spikes, which are interpreted as coming from the tail. The arrangement may have been a stegosaurian-like set of four paired spikes. Unlike Shunosaurus, which also had spikes, there was apparently no bony tail club.
Tazoudasaurus naimi Allain, Aquesbi, Dejax, Meyer, Monbaron, Richir, Rochdy, Russell, and Taquet, 2004 Pliensbachian-Toarcian (EJ) of Morocco This basal sauropod is known from the remains of an adult and juvenile; the adult remains include partial skull and (rather oddly bent, unless the photograph is of the piece unrestored) lower jaw, and a variety of postcranial material. Among the basal sauropods, it is closest to Vulcanodon. It was a smallish sauropod, on the order of 9 m long.
Barapasaurus tagorei Jain, Kutty, Roy-Chowdhury, and Chatterjee, 1975 Sinemurian-Pliensbachian (EJ) of India Barapasaurus is known from the most material of any EJ sauropod, including the partial remains of several individuals (all missing head, hands, and feet).
Rhoetosaurus brownei Longman, 1925 Bajocian (MJ) of Australia Known from much of the rear end of a moderately-sized generalized sauropod (partial tail, partial pelvis, right leg, and other odds and ends), Rhoetosaurus is a rare Australian dinosaur, and one of its first-described examples. Researchers return to the type locality occasionally and find additional parts.

 

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