Oh, man, I feel for the kids nowadays. When I was an itty-bitty dinosaur-happy tyke, it seemed like there was a manageable amount of Latin nomenclature you had to memorize to keep up with the dinosaur clan. Now it’s like there’s a new one added every week, and you’ve got to be a freakin’ genius to be able to follow them all. Kids do still go wacky over dinosaurs, right? We haven’t gone so far down the tubes that the little nerds are neglecting their paleontology, have we?
Anyway, there’s a new one out of Spain, Turiasaurus riodevensis, an old school sauropod, and it’s a big one. Pictures below the fold…
Here’s where it fits in the sauropod clade, and see what I mean? All those names!
The fossil is rather fragmentary: the skull is in pieces, the teeth scattered, and most of what is preserved are the trunk-like sauropod limbs.
It is big, perhaps the largest from Europe.
Many of the elements of Turiasaurus are comparable in size with those of some of the largest known sauropods. For example, the humerus of the type specimen is 1790 mm long, similar to the value estimated for Argentinosaurus (1810 mm) and longer than that of Paralititan (1690 mm). Only the humeri of brachiosaurids, which can exceed 2000 mm in length are longer. However, brachiosaurs, including Brachiosaurus itself, have apomorphically elongated forelimbs, which means that comparisons based solely on humerus length might underestimate the relative body size of a nonbrachiosaurid such as Turiasaurus. This explains why hindlimb elements of Turiasaurus are actually larger than those of the biggest Brachiosaurus specimens. For example, in Turiasaurus, the length of metatarsal II is 295 mm, whereas in Brachiosaurus (HMN SII) it is 276 mm. In Turiasaurus, the ungual phalanx on pedal digit I is 300 mm long, and 240 mm long in Brachiosaurus (HMN SII). The largest sauropod specimens that had been reported from Europe are an isolated brachiosaurid cervical vertebra from the Lower Cretaceous Wessex Formation in southern England and an isolated proximal caudal vertebra from another site in Riodeva . We estimate that Turiasaurus body mass was between 40 and 48 metric tons, weighing more than any other European sauropod. Particularly large sauropod genera, with body lengths exceeding 30 m and estimated masses of 40,000 kg or more, have previously been recognized only within the neosauropod radiations [diplodocoids and titanosauriforms], and it might have been supposed that truly gigantic forms were restricted to Neosauropoda. Turiasaurus however, demonstrates that at least one of the more basal (non-neosauropod) lineages achieved gigantic size independently.
Royo-Torres R, Cobos A, Alcalá L (2006) A Giant European Dinosaur and a New Sauropod Clade. Science 314(5807):1925-1927.