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Leikupal, new diplodocid sauropod from Lower Cretaceous of Neuquén Province, Argentina



From: Ben Creisler
bcreisler@gmail.com

New in PLoS ONE:

Pablo A. Gallina, Sebastián Apesteguía, Alejandro Haluza & Juan I. Canale (2014)
A Diplodocid Sauropod Survivor from the Early Cretaceous of South America.
PLoS ONE 9(5): e97128.
doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0097128
http://www.plosone.org/article/info%3Adoi%2F10.1371%2Fjournal.pone.0097128


Diplodocids are by far the most emblematic sauropod dinosaurs. They
are part of Diplodocoidea, a vast clade whose other members are
well-known from Jurassic and Cretaceous strata in Africa, Europe,
North and South America. However, Diplodocids were never certainly
recognized from the Cretaceous or in any other southern land mass
besides Africa. Here we report a new sauropod, Leikupal laticauda gen.
et sp. nov., from the early Lower Cretaceous (Bajada Colorada
Formation) of Neuquén Province, Patagonia, Argentina. This taxon
differs from any other sauropod by the presence of anterior caudal
transverse process extremely developed with lateroventral expansions
reinforced by robust dorsal and ventral bars, very robust
centroprezygapophyseal lamina in anterior caudal vertebra and paired
pneumatic fossae on the postzygapophyses in anterior-most caudal
vertebra. The phylogenetic analyses support its position not only
within Diplodocidae but also as a member of Diplodocinae, clustering
together with the African form Tornieria, pushing the origin of
Diplodocoidea to the Middle Jurassic or even earlier. The new
discovery represents the first record of a diplodocid for South
America and the stratigraphically youngest record of this clade
anywhere.