Fidel Torcida Fernández-Baldor, José Ignacio Canudo, Pedro Huerta, Miguel Moreno-Azanza, & Diego Montero (2017)
Europatitan eastwoodi, a new sauropod from the lower Cretaceous of Iberia in the initial radiation of somphospondylans in Laurasia.
The sauropod of El Oterillo II is a specimen that was excavated from the Castrillo de la Reina Formation (Burgos, Spain), late Barremian–early Aptian, in the 2000s but initially remained undescribed. A tooth and elements of the axial skeleton, and the scapular and pelvic girdle, represent it. It is one of the most complete titanosauriform sauropods from the Early Cretaceous of Europe and presents an opportunity to deepen our understanding of the radiation of this clade in the Early Cretaceous and study the paleobiogeographical relationships of Iberia with Gondwana and with other parts of Laurasia. The late Barremian–early Aptian is the time interval in the Cretaceous with the greatest diversity of sauropod taxa described in Iberia: two titanosauriforms, Tastavinsaurus and Europatitan; and a rebbachisaurid, Demandasaurus. The new sauropod Europatitan eastwoodi n. gen. n. sp. presents a series of autapomorphic characters in the presacral vertebrae and scapula that distinguish it from the other sauropods of the Early Cretaceous of Iberia. Our phylogenetic study locates Europatitan as the basalmost member of the Somphospondyli, clearly differentiated from other clades such as Brachiosauridae and Titanosauria, and distantly related to the contemporaneous Tastavinsaurus. Europatitan could be a representative of a Eurogondwanan fauna like Demandasaurus, the other sauropod described from the Castrillo de la Reina Formation. The presence of a sauropod fauna with marked Gondwananan affinities in the Aptian of Iberia reinforces the idea of faunal exchanges between this continental masses during the Early Cretaceous. Further specimens and more detailed analysis are needed to elucidate if this Aptian fauna is caused by the presence of previously unnoticed Aptian land bridges, or it represents a relict fauna from an earlier dispersal event.