Lufengosaurus (Chinese: 祿豐龍 or 禄丰龙, meaning "Lufeng lizard") is a genus of massospondylid dinosaur which lived during the Early Jurassic period in what is now southwestern China. The dinosaur made international headlines in 2017 when Nature Communications reported scientists' discovery of 195-million-year-old collagen protein in the rib of a Lufengosarus fossil.
|Holotype of L. huenei on display at the Paleozoological Museum of China.|
During the late 1930s geologist Bien Meinian began to uncover fossils at Shawan near Lufeng in Yunnan province. In 1938 he was joined by paleontologist Yang Zhongjian, at the time better known as "C.C. Young" in the West. In 1941, Yang named remains of a "prosauropod" Lufengosaurus huenei. The generic name refers to Lufeng. The specific name honours Yang's old tutor, the German paleontologist Friedrich von Huene.
The holotype, IVPP V15, a partial skeleton, was found in the Lower Lufeng Formation. Originally considered Triassic, this formation is now seen as dating to the Lower Jurassic (Hettangian–Sinemurian). A second species was named by Yang in 1940/1941 and fully described in 1947: Lufengosaurus magnus was, as its specific name suggests ("the large one" in Latin), a significantly (up to a third in length) larger creature than L. huenei. However, in the West this is often considered a junior synonym of Lufengosaurus huenei, representing large individuals. About thirty major specimens have been discovered, including those of juveniles. In 1958 an exemplar of Lufengosaurus was the first complete dinosaur skeleton mounted in China; a commemorative postage stamp of 8 yuan was issued on 15 April 1958 to celebrate the event, the first time ever a dinosaur was depicted on a stamp. The skeleton is now on display in the Paleozoological Museum of China.
In 1940 Yang named another prosauropod: Gyposaurus sinensis. In 1976 Peter Galton considered this species to be identical to Lufengosaurus. As it is found in Bajocian stage deposits of China, this would make Lufengosaurus one of the few "prosauropod" genera to survive into the Middle Jurassic. However, the identity is today generally doubted.
In 1981, Michael Cooper suggested that Lufengosaurus and Yunnanosaurus were species of the South African genus Massospondylus. However, a reanalysis in 2005 by Paul Barrett and colleagues of the skull of Lufengosaurus huenei establishes it as a distinct genus separate from either Massospondylus or Yunnanosaurus.
In 2015 preserved collagen protein was found in a Lufengosaurus fossil by an international team led by Yao-Chang Lee of Taiwan's National Synchrotron Radiation Research Center. The protein, described in Nature Communications (2017 January 31), was over 100 million years older than any previously recorded fossil protein.
Lufengosaurus is often described as a rather small early sauropodomorph, about 6 metres (20 ft) long. However, when the L. magnus specimens are included, its size is more considerable: Gregory S. Paul estimated a length of 9 metres (30 ft) and a weight of 1.7 metric tons (1.9 short tons) in 2010. For an early sauropodomorph, its neck is rather long and the forelimbs are relatively short. From these it was inferred that the species was bipedal, even before it became common to assume this for all basal sauropodomorphs. Yang published a full osteology of Lufengosaurus in 1941, but was severely hampered in his diagnosis by the war conditions, preventing a full access to literature and making an adequate comparison with related forms impossible. Of the skull a modern description exists. The skull of the holotype is 25 centimetres (9.8 in) long.
Lufengosaurus snout was deep and broad, and it had distinctive bony bumps just behind its large nostrils and on its cheeks. A bony ridge on the side of its upper jaw might have helped anchor soft tissue. If so, then Lufengosaurus must have had larger cheeks than most other sauropodomorphs. Its closely spaced, serrated teeth suited a diet of leaves.
Yang assigned Lufengosaurus to the Plateosauridae and this is still a common classification in China. Some cladistic analyses have found Lufengosaurus as a member of the Massospondylidae. Lufengosaurus was often thought to be very similar to Plateosaurus from Europe. However, new work has proven that the pair are quite different, and Lufengosaurus was closer to Coloradisaurus and Massospondylus.
Like all early sauropodomorphs, Lufengosaurus had much longer hindlimbs than forelimbs and was probably bipedal. It was herbivorous, although it had sharp claws (with an especially large thumb claw) and teeth. These features have been used to support claims, the most recent by Cooper in 1981, that Lufengosaurus may have been at least partially omnivorous, but the sharp teeth witnessed in Lufengosaurus and other early sauropodomorphs are similar to those seen in iguanaian lizards — which are herbivorous. Alternatively, the claws may have been used for defense or raking foliage from trees. Embryos of this genus also represent the earliest evidence of vertebrate soft tissue preservation.
Paleontology or palaeontology is the study of prehistoric life forms on Earth through the examination of plant and animal fossils. This includes the study of body fossils, tracks (ichnites), burrows, cast-off parts, fossilised feces (coprolites), palynomorphs and chemical residues. Because humans have encountered fossils for millennia, paleontology has a long history both before and after becoming formalized as a science. This article records significant discoveries and events related to paleontology that occurred or were published in the year 1941.Averostra
Averostra, or "bird snouts", is a clade that includes most theropod dinosaurs that have a promaxillary fenestra (fenestra promaxillaris), an extra opening in the front outer side of the maxilla, the bone that makes up the upper jaw. Two groups of averostrans, the Ceratosauria and the Orionides, survived into the Cretaceous period. When the Cretaceous–Paleogene extinction event occurred, ceratosaurians and two groups of orionideans within the clade Coelurosauria, the Tyrannosauroidea and Maniraptoriformes, were still extant. Only one subgroup of maniraptoriformes, Aves, survived the extinction event and persisted to the present day.Avetheropoda
Avetheropoda, or "bird theropods", is a clade that includes carnosaurians and coelurosaurs to the exclusion of other dinosaurs.Coloradisaurus
Coloradisaurus (meaning "Colorados [from Los Colorados Formation] lizard") is a genus of massospondylid sauropodomorph dinosaur. It lived during the Late Triassic period (Norian to Rhaetian stages) in what is now La Rioja Province, Argentina. It is known from the holotype PVL 5904, nearly complete skull. It was discovered and collected from the upper section of the Los Colorados Formation of the Ischigualasto-Villa Unión Basin.Daye Group
The Daye Group is a geological formation in China. It dates back to the Hettangian-Pliensbachian.Fulengia
Fulengia is the name given to a genus of dinosaur from the Early Jurassic. It was a prosauropod or other basal sauropodomorph. Its fossils were found in China.
The type species, Fulengia youngi, was described by Carroll and Galton in 1977. It is a nomen dubium, and may be the same animal as Lufengosaurus (from which it is anagramized). It was originally thought to be a lizard.Glacialisaurus
Glacialisaurus is a genus of massospondylid sauropodomorph dinosaur. It lived during the Early Jurassic period in what is now central Transantarctic Mountains of Antarctica. It is known from the holotype FMNH PR1823, a partial hind limb (foot) and from the referred material FMNH PR1822, a left femur.Gyposaurus
Gyposaurus (meaning "vulture lizard", referring to the outdated hypothesis that prosauropods were carnivores) is a genus of basal sauropodomorph dinosaur from the early Jurassic of South Africa. It is usually considered to represent juveniles of other prosauropods, but "G." sinensis is regarded as a possibly valid species in recent reviews of the prosauropods (Galton and Upchurch, 2004).Lower Lufeng Series
The Lower Lufeng Series (or Lower Lufeng Formation) is a Lower Jurassic sedimentary rock formation found in Yunnan, China. It has two units: the lower Dull Purplish Beds/Shawan Member are of Hettangian age, and Dark Red Beds/Zhangjia'ao Member are of Sinemurian age. It is known for its fossils of early dinosaurs. The Dull Purplish Beds have yielded the possible therizinosaur Eshanosaurus, the possible theropod Lukousaurus, and the "prosauropods" "Gyposaurus" sinensis, Lufengosaurus, Jingshanosaurus, and Yunnanosaurus. Dinosaurs discovered in the Dark Red Beds include the theropod Sinosaurus triassicus, the "prosauropods" "Gyposaurus", Lufengosaurus, and Yunnanosaurus, indeterminate remains of sauropods, and the early armored dinosaurs Bienosaurus and Tatisaurus.Lufeng Dinosaur Museum
The Lufeng Dinosaur Museum is located in Jingshan ("Golden Hill"), Lufeng County, Yunnan Province, China. Lufeng is the site of numerous Jurassic dinosaur discoveries, first found there in 1938. Most well known is Lufengosaurus, a Jurassic prosauropod. More recently, teeth and a skull of Ramapithecus, a Miocene period primate related to the orangutan, have been found in Lufeng. The Lufeng Dinosaur Museum includes the hall of ancient living beings where four complete dinosaur skeletons ranging from 2.4 meters to 9 meters in length are on display. In addition, there is a display of photographs and diagrams of dinosaurs from around the world. The museum includes the hall of ancient bronzeware and earthenware and the hall of ancient Pithecanthropus.Massospondylidae
Massospondylidae is a family of early massopod dinosaurs that existed in Asia, Africa, South America and Antarctica during the Late Triassic to the Early Jurassic periods. Several dinosaurs have been classified as massospondylids over the years. The largest cladistic analysis of early sauropodomorphs, which was presented by Apaldetti and colleagues in November 2011, found Adeopapposaurus, Coloradisaurus, Glacialisaurus, Massospondylus, Leyesaurus and Lufengosaurus to be massospondylids. This result supports many previous analyses that tested fewer taxa. However, this analysis found the two recently described North American massopods, Sarahsaurus and Seitaad, and the South African Ignavusaurus to nest outside Massospondylidae, as opposed to some provisional proposals. Earlier in 2011, Pradhania, a sauropodomorph from India, was tested for the first time in a large cladistic analysis and was found to be a relatively basal massospondylid. Mussaurus and Xixiposaurus may also be included within Massospondylidae. In 2019, a specimen previously assigned to Massospondylus from South Africa was re-examined and found to belong to a separate genus that was named Ngwevu.Massospondylus
Massospondylus ( mas-oh-SPON-di-ləs; from Greek, μάσσων (massōn, "longer") and σπόνδυλος (spondylos, "vertebra")) is a genus of sauropodomorph dinosaur from the Early Jurassic Period (Hettangian to Pliensbachian ages, ca. 200–183 million years ago). It was described by Sir Richard Owen in 1854 from remains discovered in South Africa, and is thus one of the first dinosaurs to have been named. Fossils have since been found at other locations in South Africa, Lesotho, and Zimbabwe. Material from Arizona's Kayenta Formation, India, and Argentina has been assigned to this genus at various times, but the Arizonan and Argentinian material are now assigned to other genera.
The type species is M. carinatus; seven other species have been named during the past 150 years, but only M. kaalae among these is still considered valid. Early sauropodomorphs systematics have undergone numerous revisions during the last several years, and many scientists disagree where exactly Massospondylus lies on the dinosaur evolutionary tree. The family name Massospondylidae was once coined for the genus, but because knowledge of early sauropodomorph relationships is in a state of flux, it is unclear which other dinosaurs—if any—belong in a natural grouping of massospondylids; several 2007 papers support the family's validity.
Although Massospondylus was long depicted as quadrupedal, a 2007 study found it to be bipedal. It was probably a plant eater (herbivore), although it is speculated that the early sauropodomorphs may have been omnivorous. This animal, which was 4–6 metres (13–20 ft) long, had a long neck and tail, with a small head and slender body. On each of its forefeet, it bore a sharp thumb claw that was used in defense or feeding. Recent studies indicate that Massospondylus grew steadily throughout its lifespan, possessed air sacs similar to those of birds, and may have cared for its young.Mussaurus
Mussaurus (meaning "mouse lizard") is a genus of herbivorous sauropodomorph dinosaur that lived in southern Argentina during the Late Triassic, about 215 million years ago. It receives its name from the small size of the skeletons of juvenile and infant individuals, which were once the only known specimens of the genus. However, since Mussaurus is now known from adult specimens, the name is something of a misnomer; adults possibly reached 6 metres (20 ft) in length and weighed more than 1,000 kilograms (2,200 lb). Mussaurus possesses anatomical features suggesting a close, possibly transitional evolutionary relationship with true sauropods.Riojasauridae
Riojasauridae is a family of sauropod-like dinosaurs from the Upper Triassic. It is known primarily from the genera Riojasaurus and Eucnemesaurus. Sites containing Riojasauridae include the Lower Elliot Formation of Orange Free State, South Africa (where fossils of Eucnemesaurus have been found), and Ischigualasto, in La Rioja Province, Argentina ( where fossils of Riojasaurus have been recovered).Sauropodomorpha
Sauropodomorpha ( SOR-ə-POD-ə-MOR-fə; from Greek, meaning "lizard-footed forms") is an extinct clade of long-necked, herbivorous, saurischian dinosaurs that includes the sauropods and their ancestral relatives. Sauropods generally grew to very large sizes, had long necks and tails, were quadrupedal, and became the largest animals to ever walk the Earth. The "prosauropods", which preceded the sauropods, were smaller and were often able to walk on two legs. The sauropodomorphs were the dominant terrestrial herbivores throughout much of the Mesozoic Era, from their origins in the mid-Triassic (approximately 230 Ma) until their decline and extinction at the end of the Cretaceous (approximately 66 Ma).Xingxiulong
Xingxiulong (meaning "Xingxiu Bridge dragon") is a genus of bipedal sauropodiform from the Early Jurassic of China. It contains a single species, X. chengi, described by Wang et al. in 2017 from three specimens, two adults and an immature individual, that collectively constitute a mostly complete skeleton. Adults of the genus measured 4–5 metres (13–16 ft) long and 1–1.5 metres (3 ft 3 in–4 ft 11 in) tall. Phylogenetic analysis suggests that Xingxiulong is most closely related to its contemporary Jingshanosaurus, although an alternative position outside of both the Sauropodiformes and Massospondylidae is also plausible.
Despite their close relationship, Xingxiulong prominently differs from Jingshanosaurus - and from most basal sauropodomorphs - in having a number of sauropod-like traits. These include a sacrum containing four vertebrae; a pubis with an exceptionally long top portion; and the femur, the first and fifth metatarsals on the foot, and the scapula being wide and robust. These probably represent adaptations to supporting high body weight, in particular a large gut. Unlike sauropods, however, Xingxiulong would still have been bipedal.Yunnanosaurus
Yunnanosaurus ( YOO-nan-o-SAWR-əs) is an extinct genus of sauropodomorph dinosaur that lived approximately 201 to 168 million years ago in what is now the Yunnan Province, in China. Yunnanosaurus was a large sized, moderately-built, ground-dwelling, quadrupedal herbivore, that could also walk bipedally, and ranged in size from 7 meters (23 feet) long and 2 m (6.5 ft) high to 4 m (13 ft) high in the largest species.Zhenzhuchong Formation
The Zhenzhuchong Formation is a Mesozoic geologic formation in China. Plesiosaur remains are among the fossils that have been recovered from its strata. .Dinosaur remains diagnostic to the genus level are among the fossils that have been recovered from the formation.