Nebulasaurus is an extinct genus of basal eusauropod dinosaur known from the early Middle Jurassic Zhanghe Formation (Aalenian or Bajocian stage) of Yunnan Province, China. It is known only from the holotype braincase LDRC-v.d.1. A phylogenetic analysis found Nebulasaurus to be a sister taxon to Spinophorosaurus from the Middle Jurassic of Africa. This discovery is significant paleontologically because it represents a clade of basal eusauropods previously unknown from Asia.
Xing et al., 2015
Xing et al., 2015
The genus name Nebulasaurus, means "misty cloud lizard", and is derived from the Latin word nebulae meaning "misty cloud", a reference to “Yunnan” which means “southern misty cloudy province” and the Greek word "sauros" (σαυρος) meaning "lizard" The specific name ‘’taito’’, was given in honor of the Taito Corporation of Japan, which funded the field project and is geographically near the discovery site. Nebulasaurus was described and named by Lida Xing, Tetsuto Miyashita, Philip J. Currie, Hailu You, and Zhiming Dong in 2015 and the type species is Nebulasaurus taito. Nebulasaurus was one of eighteen dinosaur taxa from 2015 to be described in open access or free-to-read journals.
The only fossil material recovered was a braincase, which was in a good state of preservation.
Nebulasaurus was classified as a basal eusauropod, however its braincase bears resemblance to those of more derived neosauropods. Phylogenetic analysis showed that Nebulasaurus was most closely related to Spinophorosaurus. When compared to coeval sauropods, the discovery of Nebulasaurus demonstrates the diversity of sauropodomorph fauna in China during the Jurassic period.
A diagnosis is a statement of the anatomical features of an organism (or group) that collectively distinguish it from all other organisms. Some, but not all, of the features in a diagnosis are also autapomorphies. An autapomorphy is a distinctive anatomical feature that is unique to a given organism or group.
According to Xing et al. (2015), Nebulasaurus can be distinguished based on the following characteristics:
The holotype specimen of Nebulasaurus taito LDRC-v.d.1 was recovered from the Zhanghe Formation, near Xiabanjing, in Yuanmou County of Yunnan Province, China. The specimen was collected in terrestrial sediments deposited during the Aalenian and Bajocian stages of the Jurassic period, approximately 174 to 168 million years ago. This specimen is housed in the Lufeng Dinosaur Research Center in Yunnan Province.
The Zhanghe Formation has produced the remains yielded one basal sauropodomorph Yunnanosaurus youngi, and two basal eusauropods Eomamenchisaurus yuanmouensis and Yuanmousaurus jiangyiensis. This diverse sauropodomorph faunal collection from the Middle Jurassic of Asia preceded the mamenchisaurid dominance that is observed in East Asia during the Late Jurassic.
Apatosaurinae is the name of a subfamily of diplodocid sauropods that existed between 157 and 150 million years ago in North America. The group includes two genera for certain, Apatosaurus and Brontosaurus, with at least five species. Atlantosaurus and Amphicoelias might also belong to this group.Below is a cladogram of apatosaurinae interrelationships based on Tschopp et al., 2015.Argyrosauridae
Argyrosauridae is a family of large titanosaurian dinosaurs known from the late Cretaceous period of Argentina and Egypt. The group has been recovered as monophyletic, including the type genus Argyrosaurus as well as Paralititan.Brasilotitan
Brasilotitan is a genus of titanosaurian sauropod dinosaur from the Late Cretaceous (early Maastrichtian) Adamantina Formation of Brazil. The type species is Brasilotitan nemophagus.Cetiosauridae
Cetiosauridae is a family of sauropod dinosaurs. While traditionally a wastebasket taxon containing various unrelated species, some recent studies have found that it may represent a natural clade. Additionally, at least one study has suggested that the mamenchisaurids may represent a sub-group of the cetiosaurids, which would be termed Mamenchisaurinae.Diplodocinae
Diplodocinae is an extinct subfamily of diplodocid sauropods that existed from the Late Jurassic to Early Cretaceous of North America, Europe and South America, about 161.2 to 136.4 million years ago. Genera within the subfamily include Tornieria, Supersaurus, Leinkupal, Galeamopus, Diplodocus, Kaatedocus and Barosaurus.Cladogram of the Diplodocidae after Tschopp, Mateus, and Benson (2015).Eomamenchisaurus
Eomamenchisaurus (meaning "dawn Mamenchisaurus") is a genus of mamenchisaurid sauropod dinosaur from the Middle Jurassic of Yuanmou, Yunnan, China. The type species is E. yuanmouensis, described by Lü Junchang et al. in 2008.Eusauropoda
Eusauropoda (meaning "true sauropods") is a derived clade of sauropod dinosaurs. Eusauropods represent the node-based group that includes all descendant sauropods starting with the basal eusauropods of Shunosaurus, and possibly Barapasaurus, and Amygdalodon, but excluding Vulcanodon and Rhoetosaurus. The Eusauropoda was coined in 1995 by Paul Upchurch to create a monophyletic new taxonomic group that would include all sauropods, except for the vulcanodontids.Eusauropoda are herbivorous, quadrupedal, and have long necks. They have been found in South America, Europe, North America, Asia, Australia, and Africa. The temporal range of Eusauropoda ranges from the early Jurassic to the Latest Cretaceous periods. The most basal forms of eusauropods are not well known and because the cranial material for the Vulcanodon is not available, and the distribution of some of these shared derived traits that distinguish Eusauropoda is still completely clear.Ferganasaurus
Ferganasaurus was a genus of dinosaur first formally described in 2003 by Alifanov and Averianov. The type species is Ferganasaurus verzilini. It was a sauropod similar to Rhoetosaurus. The fossils were discovered in 1966 in Kyrgyzstan from the Balabansai Formation and date to the Callovian stage of the Middle Jurassic.Flagellicaudata
Flagellicaudata is a clade of Dinosauria. It belongs to Sauropoda and includes two families, the Dicraeosauridae and the Diplodocidae.Gravisauria
Gravisauria is a clade of sauropod dinosaurs consisting of some genera, Vulcanodontidae and Eusauropoda.Huangshanlong
Huangshanlong is a genus of mamenchisaurid dinosaurs native to the Anhui province of China. It contains a single species, Huangshanlong anhuiensis. H. anhuiensis represents, along with Anhuilong and Wannanosaurus, one of three dinosaurs fround in Anhui province.Jiutaisaurus
Jiutaisaurus is a genus of sauropod dinosaur from the Quantou Formation of China. Jiutaisaurus was a sauropod which lived during the Cretaceous. The type species, Jiutaisaurus xidiensis, was described by Wu et al. in 2006, and is based on eighteen vertebrae.Kaijutitan
Kaijutitan (meaning "Kaiju titan" after the type of Japanese movie monsters) is a genus of basal titanosaur dinosaur from the Sierra Barrosa Formation from Neuquén Province in Argentina. The type and only species is Kaijutitan maui.Microcoelus
Microcoelus is a dubius genus of small Titanosaurian sauropod dinosaur native to Argentina. It is known from only a single dorsal vertebra. A left humerus was formerly referred to this species, but it is now considered to belong to Neuquensaurus. This species may be a synonym of the contemporary sauropod Neuquensaurus australis.It was described by British paleontologist Richard Lydekker in 1893.Pilmatueia
Pilmatueia is a diplodocoid sauropod belonging to the family Dicraeosauridae that lived in Argentina during the Early Cretaceous.Tambatitanis
Tambatitanis is an extinct genus of titanosauriform dinosaur from the Early Cretaceous (probably early Albian) of Japan. It is known from a single type species, Tambatitanis amicitiae. It was probably around 14 meters long and its mass was estimated at some 4 tonnes. It was a basal titanosauriform and possibly belonged to the Euhelopodidae.Tastavinsaurus
Tastavinsaurus is a genus of sauropod dinosaur belonging to the Titanosauriformes. It is based on a partial skeleton from the Early Cretaceous of Spain. The type species is Tastavinsaurus sanzi, named in honor of the Rio Tastavins in Spain and Spanish paleontologist José Luis Sanz.Tengrisaurus
Tengrisaurus (meaning "Tengri lizard") is a genus of lithostrotian sauropod, from the Early Cretaceous (Barremian-Aptian), of the Murtoi Formation, Russia. It was described in 2017 by Averianov & Skutschas. The type species is T. starkovi.Vulcanodontidae
The Early Jurassic sauropod dinosaurs Zizhongosaurus, Barapasaurus, Tazoudasaurus, and Vulcanodon may form a natural group of basal sauropods called the Vulcanodontidae. Basal vulcanodonts include some of the earliest known examples of sauropods. The family-level name Vulcanodontidae was erected by M.R. Cooper in 1984. In 1995 Hunt et al. published the opinion that the family is synonymous with the Barapasauridae. One of the key morphological features specific to the family is an unusually narrow sacrum.