Tuesday, 3 December 2013

Sarahsaurus aurifontanalis

Sarahsaurus is one of the 3 known basal sauropodomorphs of North America, the other two being Anchisaurus and Seitaad. Relatively complete individuals of at least three individuals are known. The genus has been named and described by Rowe, Sues and Reisz in 2010. The crushed skull labelled MCZ 8893 was originally described as "Massospondylus sp." by Attritdge et al. (1985).

Sarahsaurus aurifontanalis
Rowe, Sues and Reisz, 2010
Meaning of generic name
Named in honour of Sarah (Mrs Ernest) Butler and saurus meaning lizard
Meaning of specific name
Meaning "of the gold spring" named after Gold Spring, Arizona, where the holotype was discovered

[aureifontinus would have been somewhat better latinization of "of the golden well" but ....]
Length: 14.1 ft (4.3 m)
Holotype: TMM 43646-2, a partial skull (premaxilla, frontal, quadrate and braincase) and a nearly complete, largely articulated postcranial skeleton

Referred specimens: TMM 43646-3, a partial postcranial skeleton from the holotype quarry; and Harvard University, Museum of Comparative Zoology. MCZ 8893 a crushed but nearly complete skull and mandible, with cervical and caudal vertebral fragments, the distal end of a humerus and a femoral shaft (was referred to Massospondylus sp. by Attritdge et al., 1985).
Age and Distribution
Horizon: Middle third of the ‘Silty Facies’ of the Kayenta Formation (Glen Canyon Group); Early Jurassic (Sinemurian–Pliensbachian).

Locality: The TMM specimens are from Northern edge of Gold Spring Wash drainage basin, in northeastern Arizona, USA; MCZ 8893 is from Rock Head, Navajo Nation, Arizona, US.
Dinosauria Saurischia Sauropodomorpha
Further Reading
Timothy B. Rowe, Hans-Dieter Sues and Robert R. Reisz (2010). "Dispersal and diversity in the earliest North American sauropodomorph dinosaurs, with a description of a new taxon". Proc. R. Soc. B.

J. Attridge, A. W. Crompton, and F. A. Jenkins, Jr. 1985. The southern African Liassic prosauropod Massospondylus discovered in North America. Journal of Vertebrate Paleontology 5(2):128-132
Massospondylus sp. Attritdge et al., 1985
It would seem "sp." is short for "spurius" = English similar word. Hence Attridge may have given it another specific name

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