Paludititan

Paludititan is a genus of herbivorous titanosaurian dinosaur which lived in the area of present Romania during the Late Cretaceous. It existed in the island ecosystem known as Hațeg Island.[1]

Paludititan
Temporal range: Late Cretaceous, Maastrichtian
Paludititan
Dorsal vertebra UBB NVM1-43
Scientific classification
Kingdom: Animalia
Phylum: Chordata
Clade: Dinosauria
Order: Saurischia
Suborder: Sauropodomorpha
Clade: Sauropoda
Clade: Titanosauria
Clade: Lithostrotia
Genus: Paludititan
Csiki et al., 2010
Species:
P. nalatzensis
Binomial name
Paludititan nalatzensis
Csiki et al., 2010

Description

Paludititan nalatzsensis
Life restoration

Paludititan was a small member of the Sauropoda, with a shoulder height of about 2 metres (6 ft 7 in). Gregory S. Paul in 2016 estimated the length of Magyarosaurus dacus and Paludititan, by him considered a possible single taxon, at 6 m (20 ft), the weight at one tonne.

The fossil remains show at least four unique features, autapomorphies, which demonstrate that P. nalatzensis is a species distinct from comparable titanosaurians. In the rear vertebrae of the back, the top of the lamina centrodiapophysealis anterior, the front ridge on the underside of the lateral process, obliquely curving to the front and above runs parallel to the top of the lamina centrodiapophysealis posterior, the rear ridge, instead of touching it. In the vertebrae of the tail base and the first vertebrae of the middle tail, the neural spines, while being short and erect, possess a conspicuous corner on their front rim, projecting to the front. While vertebrae of the tail base and the first vertebrae of the middle tail are procoelous, thus with a concave front facet of the vertebral centre, some middle tail vertebrae more to the rear are amphiplatous, with flat front and rear facets; but they are again followed by procoelous middle tail vertebrae. The peduncle of the ischium, touching the ilium, has a conspicuous triangular process at the outer upper rear, forming a buttress that overlaps the ischial pedicel of the ilium.[1]

Discovery and naming

In 2002, a Belgian-Romanian expedition uncovered a sauropod skeleton in the bed of the river Râul Mare, at Nǎlaț-Vad. It was at the time the most complete sauropod skeleton ever discovered in Romania. In 2010, the type species Paludititan nalatzensis was named and described by Zoltán Csiki, Vlad Codrea, Cǎtǎlin Jipa-Murzea and Pascal Godefroit. The generic name is derived from Latin palus, "marsh" and Greek Titan. The specific name refers to its finding place Nǎlaț-Vad.[1]

The holotype, UBB NVM1, was found in the Hațeg Basin, in a silty mudstone layer of the Sânpetru Formation, dating from the early Maastrichtian. It consists of a partial skeleton lacking the skull. It contains three dorsal vertebrae, at least nine caudal vertebrae, twelve chevrons, the right half of the pelvis, a left ischium, the lower end of the right thighbone, and two toe claws. The remains were not found in articulation but in such close association that it is likely they represent a single individual.[1]

The describing authors of Paludititan considered the possibility that the skeleton was a specimen of Magyarosaurus dacus, a coeval titanosaurian sauropod sharing the same habitat. Overlapping remains were identical. On the other hand, they did not show any shared unique traits, synapomorphies, and M. dacus is known from a different location. They felt justified to name a separate taxon, pending further discoveries.[1]

Evolutionary relationships

Paludititan was placed in 2010 in the Titanosauria. More precisely, it was considered a probable member of the Lithostrotia. Cladistic analysis suggested it was a sister species of the South American Epachthosaurus.[1]

Paleoecology

Paludititan lived on the Cretaceous Hațeg Island with a diverse assemblage of animals, including other island dwarfs such as its relative Magyarosaurus,[2] the hadrosaurid Telmatosaurus and the iguanodontian Zalmoxes. Other endemic dinosaurs include the nodosaurid Struthiosaurus, several small, fragmentary maniraptorans Bradycneme, Elopteryx, Heptasteornis,[3] and the avialan Balaur.[4] The top predator of the island ecosystem was the giant azhdarchid pterosaur Hatzegopteryx.[5]

References

  1. ^ a b c d e f Csiki, Z.; Codrea, V.; Jipa-Murzea, C.; Godefroit, P. (2010). "A partial titanosaur (Sauropoda, Dinosauria) skeleton from the Maastrichtian of Nǎlaţ-Vad, Haţeg Basin, Romania". Neues Jahrbuch für Geologie und Paläontologie, Abhandlungen. 258 (3): 297–324. doi:10.1127/0077-7749/2010/0098.
  2. ^ Grellet-Tinner G, Codrea V, Folie A, Higa A, Smith T (2012). "First Evidence of Reproductive Adaptation to "Island Effect" of a Dwarf Cretaceous Romanian Titanosaur, with Embryonic Integument In Ovo". PLoS ONE. 7 (3): e32051. doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0032051. PMC 3297589.
  3. ^ Benton, M.J.; Csiki, Z.; Grigorescu, D.; Redelstorff, R.; Sander, P.M.; Stein, K.; Weishampel, D.B. (2010). "Dinosaurs and the island rule: The dwarfed dinosaurs from Haţeg Island". Palaeogeography, Palaeoclimatology, Palaeoecology. 293 (3): 438–454. doi:10.1016/j.palaeo.2010.01.026.
  4. ^ Cau, A.; Brougham, T.; Naish, D. (2015). "The phylogenetic affinities of the bizarre Late Cretaceous Romanian theropod Balaur bondoc (Dinosauria, Maniraptora): dromaeosaurid or flightless bird?". PeerJ. 3: e1032. doi:10.7717/peerj.1032. PMC 4476167. PMID 26157616.
  5. ^ Naish, D.; Witton, M.P. (2017). "Neck biomechanics indicate that giant Transylvanian azhdarchid pterosaurs were short-necked arch predators". PeerJ. 5: e2908. doi:10.7717/peerj.2908. PMC 5248582.
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