|Limaysaurus tessonei skeleton restoration|
In 1990 sauropod specialist Jack McIntosh included the first known rebbachisaurid genus, the giant North African sauropod Rebbachisaurus, in the family Diplodocidae, subfamily Dicraeosaurinae, on the basis of skeletal details. With the discovery in subsequent years of a number of additional genera, it was realised that Rebbachisaurus and its relatives constituted a distinct group of dinosaurs. In 1997 the Argentine paleontologist José Bonaparte described the family Rebbachisauridae, and in 2011 Whitlock defined two new subfamilies within the group: Nigersaurinae and Limaysaurinae. Cladogram of the Rebbachisauridae after Fanti et al. (2013) which is based on Carballido et al. (2012):
Cladogram after Fanti et al., 2015.
Although all authorities agree that the rebbachisaurids are members of the superfamily Diplodocoidea, they lack the bifid (divided) cervical neural spines that characterise the diplodocids and dicraeosaurids, and for this reason are considered more primitive than the latter two groups. It is not yet known whether they share the distinctive whip-tail of the latter two taxa.
Rebbachisaurids are distinguished from other sauropods by their distinctive teeth, which have low angle, internal wear facets and asymmetrical enamel.
Unique among sauropods, at least some rebbachisaurids (such as Nigersaurus) are characterised by the presence of tooth batteries, similar to those of hadrosaur and ceratopsian dinosaurs. Such a feeding adaptation has thus developed independently three times among the dinosaurs.
So far, rebbachisaurids are known only from the middle and early part of the Late Cretaceous. They constitute the last known representatives of this clade, and lived alongside the titanosaurs until fairly late in the Cretaceous.
Amphicoelias (, meaning "biconcave", from the Greek ἀμφί, amphi: "on both sides", and κοῖλος, koilos: "hollow, concave") is a genus of herbivorous sauropod dinosaur that lived approximately 150 million years ago during the Tithonian (Late Jurassic Period) of what is now Colorado, United States. A herbivore, Amphicoelias was moderately sized at about 25 m (82 ft) long–roughly the same length as Diplodocus, to which it was related. Its hindlimbs were very long and thin, and its forelimbs were proportionally longer than in relatives.
The namesake fossil of the type species Amphicoelias altus, American Museum of Natural History 5764, is uncertain in included material. When described by Edward Drinker Cope shortly after its discovery in 1877, Amphicoelias was noted to include many back vertebrae, a single pubis, and a femur. However, after purchase and cataloging of the material by the AMNH, Henry Fairfield Osborn and Charles Mook described that the specimen had only two vertebrae, a pubis, femur, tooth, scapula, coracoid, ulna and a second femur. The additional material, not mentioned by Cope, was found close in proximity to the holotype and was similar to Diplodocus, a relative of Amphicoelias. Their assignment was questioned by subsequent authors Emanuel Tschopp et al. in an analysis of Diplodocidae.
During the description of Amphicoelias altus in 1877, Cope additionally named A. latus, for a femur and tail vertebrae. Following its description, Osborn and Mook in 1921 reidentified the material as a specimen of Camarasaurus, an assignment followed by other authors who reviewed the material. A year later 1878, Cope named the third species of Amphicoelias, A. fragillimus for a gigantic dorsal vertebra that was subsequently lost. Measuring approximately 2.7 m (8.9 ft) if reconstructed based on Diplodocus, early estimates for the length of the animal in life were between 40 and 60 m (130 and 200 ft) long. Due to the incomplete nature, such lengths–the longest of any known dinosaur and sauropod–were largely ignored. In 2018, Kenneth Carpenter renamed Amphicoelias fragillimus as the new genus Maraapunisaurus, and reclassified it from Diplodocidae to Rebbachisauridae.Cathartesaura
Cathartesaura is a genus of rebbachisaurid sauropod dinosaur hailing from the Late Cretaceous strata of the Huincul Formation, at the "La Buitrera" locality, in the Neuquén Basin of Río Negro Province, Argentina. The fossil remains, described by Gallina and Apesteguía in 2005, consist of a partial skeleton including vertebrae and limb bones. These were found at the base of the formation, which spans the Cenomanian and Coniacian epochs, in mudstone and sandstone levels.Comahuesaurus
Comahuesaurus is a genus of sauropod dinosaur of the family Rebbachisauridae. It was found in the Lohan Cura Formation, in Argentina and lived during the Early Cretaceous, Aptian to Albian. The type species is C. windhauseni, named by Carballido and colleagues in 2012. It had originally been assigned to Limaysaurus by Salgado et al. (2004), but was later assigned its own genus based on the presence of diagnostic characters in the caudal centra, pubis and ischium.Comahuesaurus is known from abundant material compared to other rebbachisaurids; 37 caudal vertebrae, three fragmentary dorsal vertebrae and multiple appendicular elements, including a right humerus, pubis, ischium and a 113 cm long left femur. In their phylogenetic analysis, Carballido et al. (2012) placed Comahuesaurus in an intermediate position between basal rebbachisaurids such as Histriasaurus and the derived clade formed by subfamilies Rebbachisaurinae and Limaysaurinae.It shares with more derived rebbachisaurids a reduced hyposphene-hypantrum system, but hadn't yet completely lost said structure; that change would happen at some further point in the evolution of the clade, as it is so far only known to be fully absent in limaysaurines.Demandasaurus
Demandasaurus (meaning "Demanda lizard") is a genus of rebbachisaurid sauropod dinosaur from early Cretaceous (late Barremian – early Aptian stage) deposits of Spain. Demandasaurus is known from an incomplete but associated skeleton that includes cranial and postcranial remains. It was collected from the Castrillo la Reina Formation in Burgos Province of Spain. It was first named by Fidel Torcida Fernández-Baldor, José Ignacio Canudo, Pedro Huerta, Diego Montero, Xabier Pereda Suberbiola and Leonardo Salgado in 2011 and the type species is Demandasaurus darwini.Dicraeosaurus
Dicraeosaurus (Gr. δικραιος, dikraios "bifurcated, double-headed" + Gr. σαυρος, sauros "lizard") is a genus of small diplodocoid sauropod dinosaur that lived in what is now Tanzania during the late Jurassic. It was named for the spines on the back of the neck. The first fossil was described by paleontologist Werner Janensch in 1914.Diplodocimorpha
Diplodocimorpha is a clade of extinct sauropod dinosaurs, existing from the Early Jurassic until the Late Cretaceous. The group includes three main families and some other genera, Rebbachisauridae, Dicraeosauridae and Diplodocidae, the latter two forming Flagellicaudata. The name was first used by Calvo & Salgado (1995), who defined it as "Rebbachisaurus tessonei sp. nov., Diplodocidae, and all descendants of their common ancestor." The group was not used often, and was synonymized with Diplodocoidea as the groups were often found to have the same content. In 2005, Mike P. Taylor and Darren Naish reviewed diplodocoid phylogeny and taxonomy, and realized that Diplodocimorpha could not be synonymized with Diplodocoidea. Whereas the former was defined node-based, the latter was branch-based. In 2015, Emanuel Tschopp, Octavio Mateus and Roger Benson published a specimen-based phylogeny on diplodocid interrelationships, and supported the separation of Diplodocimorpha. Haplocanthosaurus was found to be more basal than rebbachisaurids, and therefore outside Diplodocimorpha, but closer to Diplodocus than Saltasaurus, and therefore within Diplodocoidea. The below cladogram follows the findings of Tschopp et al.Diplodocoidea
Diplodocoidea is a superfamily of sauropod dinosaurs, which included some of the longest animals of all time, including slender giants like Supersaurus, Diplodocus, Apatosaurus, and Amphicoelias. Most had very long necks and long, whip-like tails; however, one family (the dicraeosaurids) are the only known sauropods to have re-evolved a short neck, presumably an adaptation for feeding low to the ground. This adaptation was taken to the extreme in the highly specialized sauropod Brachytrachelopan. A study of snout shape and dental microwear in diplodocoids showed that the square snouts, large proportion of pits, and fine subparallel scratches in Apatosaurus, Diplodocus, Nigersaurus, and Rebbachisaurus suggest ground-height nonselective browsing; the narrow snouts of Dicraeosaurus, Suuwassea, and Tornieria and the coarse scratches and gouges on the teeth of Dicraeosaurus suggest mid-height selective browsing in those taxa. This taxon is also noteworthy because diplodocoid sauropods had the highest tooth replacement rates of any vertebrates, as exemplified by Nigersaurus, which had new teeth erupting every 30 days.Flagellicaudata
Flagellicaudata is a clade of Dinosauria. It belongs to Sauropoda and includes two families, the Dicraeosauridae and the Diplodocidae.Histriasaurus
Histriasaurus (HIS-tree-ah-SAWR-us) (meaning "Istria lizard") was a genus of dinosaur from the Early Cretaceous (Hauterivian to Barremian stages, around 130 million years ago). Its fossils, holotype WN V-6, were found near the town of Bale on the Istrian peninsula in Croatia, and described in 1998 by Dalla Vecchia. It was a diplodocoid sauropod, related to, but more primitive than, Rebbachisaurus. Phylogenetic analyses published in 2007 and 2011 placed Histriasaurus as the most basal member of Rebbachisauridae.The type species, H. boscarollii, was described by Dalla Vecchia in 1998. The specific name honours the discoverer of the site, Darío Boscarolli. Although some authors consider Histriasaurus a dubious taxon, more recent papers support the original classification.Itapeuasaurus
Itapeuasaurus (meaning "Itapeua lizard") is a genus of rebbachisaurid sauropod dinosaur from the Alcântara Formation from Maranhão in Brazil. The type and only species is Itapeuasaurus cajapioensis. It would have been around 10 metres (33 ft) to 15 metres (49 ft) when fully grown.Katepensaurus
Katepensaurus is an extinct genus of rebbachisaurid sauropod dinosaur known from the Late Cretaceous of south-central Chubut Province of central Patagonia, Argentina. It contains a single species, Katepensaurus goicoecheai.Lavocatisaurus
Lavocatisaurus is a genus of sauropod in the family Rebbachisauridae from the Early Cretaceous (Aptian to Albian) Rayoso Formation of the Neuquén Basin, northern Patagonia, Argentina.Limaysaurus
Limaysaurus (“Limay lizard”) is a genus represented by a single species of rebbachisaurid sauropod dinosaurs, which lived during the mid-Cretaceous period, about 99.6 and 97 million years ago, in the Cenomanian, in what is now South America (northwestern Patagonia).Nigersaurus
Nigersaurus is a genus of rebbachisaurid sauropod dinosaur that lived during the middle Cretaceous period, about 115 to 105 million years ago. It was discovered in the Elrhaz Formation in an area called Gadoufaoua, in the Republic of Niger. Fossils of this dinosaur were first described in 1976, but it was only named Nigersaurus taqueti in 1999, after further and more complete remains were found and described. The genus name means "Niger reptile", and the specific name honours the palaeontologist Philippe Taquet, who discovered the first remains.
Small for a sauropod, Nigersaurus was about 9 metres (30 feet) long, and had a short neck. It weighed around four tonnes, comparable to a modern elephant. Its skeleton was highly pneumatised (filled with air spaces connected to air sacs), but the limbs were robustly built. Its skull was very specialised for feeding, with large fenestrae and thin bones. It had a wide muzzle filled with more than 500 teeth, which were replaced at a rapid rate: around every 14 days. The jaws may have borne a keratinous sheath. Unlike other tetrapods, the tooth-bearing bones of its jaws were rotated transversely relative to the rest of the skull, so that all of its teeth were located far to the front.
Nigersaurus and its closest relatives are grouped within the subfamily Rebbachisaurinae (formerly thought to be grouped in the eponymous Nigersaurinae) of the family Rebbachisauridae, which is part of the sauropod superfamily Diplodocoidea. Nigersaurus was probably a browser, and fed with its head close to the ground. The region of its brain that detected smell was underdeveloped, although its brain size was comparable to that of other dinosaurs. There has been debate on whether its head was habitually held downwards, or horizontally like other sauropods. It lived in a riparian habitat, and its diet probably consisted of soft plants, such as ferns, horsetails, and angiosperms. It is one of the most common fossil vertebrates found in the area, and shared its habitat with other dinosaurian megaherbivores, as well as large theropods and crocodylomorphs.Nopcsaspondylus
Nopcsaspondylus (meaning "Nopsca's vertebra", in reference to the original describer) is a genus of rebbachisaurid sauropod dinosaur (a type of large, long-necked quadrupedal herbivorous dinosaur) from the Cenomanian-age (Upper Cretaceous) Candeleros Formation of Neuquén, Argentina. It is based on a now-lost back vertebra described by Nopcsa in 1902 but not named at the time. The specimen had a small vertebral body and large hollows, now known to be typical of rebbachisaurids.Rayososaurus
Rayososaurus is a genus of plant-eating sauropod dinosaur of the superfamily Diplodocoidea. It was found in the Candeleros Formation, but was named Rayososaurus after the Rayoso Member, which later has been elevated to the older Rayoso Formation. The formations are located in the Neuquén Basin of northern Patagonia, Argentina. Rayososaurus lived during the Cenomanian epoch of the Late Cretaceous, about 99 to 96 million years ago. The type species is R. agrioensis, named by Argentinian paleontologist José Bonaparte in 1996. The species epithet agrioensis refers to the Agrio del Medio locality.Rebbachisaurinae
Rebbachisaurinae is a subfamily within the family Rebbachisauridae, defined to include Rebbachisaurus garasbae and exclude Limaysaurus tessonei. It was first proposed as a rank by Jose Bonaparte in 1995, to include Rebbachisaurus. Some phylogenies however, include Rebbachisaurus in a clade with Limaysaurus, and thus the subfamily was not used. In 2015, a phylogenetic analysis was conducted, and it found Rebbachisaurus instead to be closer to Nigersaurus and related genera than Limaysaurus, and thus was used to replace Nigersaurinae as Rebbachisaurinae is the older term and is named after the genus used for the formation of the family Rebbachisauridae. The 2015 cladogram of Fanti et al. is shown below.Tataouinea
Tataouinea is a genus of sauropod dinosaur (with a single species, Tataouinea hannibalis) in the subfamily Rebbachisaurinae of Rebbachisauridae which lived in the Early Cretaceous Tunisia. Its bones were extensively pneumatic, providing strong support for the theory that sauropods had birdlike respiratory systems. Key characteristics of its vertebral morphology show that Tatouinea was a rebbachisaurid, closely related to the nigersaurines of Europe. In 2015, more material of the holotype specimen uncovered after the initial description were analysed. These included additional tail vertebrae. A phylogenetic analysis was published alongside the paper, finding a clade of nigersaurines to include Rebbachisaurus, thus forcing the subfamily to be renamed Rebbachisaurinae.It bears the name of the region where it was discovered, Tataouine, and a punic military commander Hannibal.Xenoposeidon
Xenoposeidon (meaning "strange or alien Poseidon", in allusion to Sauroposeidon) is a genus of rebbachisaurid sauropod dinosaur from the Early Cretaceous of England, living about 140 million years ago. It is known from a single partial vertebra with unusual features, unlike those of other sauropods. This bone was first discovered in the early 1890s but received little attention until it was found by University of Portsmouth student Mike Taylor, who formally described and named it in 2007 with Darren Naish.