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Sauropod caudal vertebra from Middle Jurassic of UK

Ben Creisler

New in PLoS ONE:

Phillip L. Manning , Victoria M. Egerton & Mike Romano (2015)
A New Sauropod Dinosaur from the Middle Jurassic of the United Kingdom.
PLoS ONE 10(6): e0128107

A new record of a sauropodomorph dinosaur is here described from the
Middle Jurassic (Aalenian) Saltwick Formation of Whitby (Yorkshire),
UK. A single caudal vertebra represents an early sauropodomorph and
signifies the earliest recognised eusauropod dinosaur from the United
Kingdom. The absence of pleurocoels and a narrow, dorsoventrally deep,
but craniocaudally short centrum, suggests a primitive sauropodomorph.
Distinct spinopostzygopophyseal laminae rise from the lateral margins
of the postzygapophyses and pass caudally along what remains of the
neural spine, a character unique to a subgroup of sauropods that
includes Barapasaurus, Omeisaurus and other neosauropods and
eusauropods. The lack of phylogenetically robust characters in
sauropod caudal vertebrae usually makes it difficult to establish
affinities, but the absence of mild procoely excludes this specimen
from both Diplodocoidea and Lithostrotia. The vertebra cannot be
further distinguished from those of a wide range of basal sauropods,
cetiosaurids and basal macronarians. However, this plesiomorphic
vertebra still signifies the earliest stratigraphic occurrence for a
British sauropod dinosaur.