Saltasaurinae is a subfamily of titanosaurian sauropods known from the late Cretaceous period of South America, India and Madagascar. They are considered to be the most derived of all sauropods.

Temporal range: Late Cretaceous, 80–66 Ma
Saltasaurus dinosaur
Life restoration of Saltasaurus, the type species
Scientific classification
Kingdom: Animalia
Phylum: Chordata
Clade: Dinosauria
Order: Saurischia
Suborder: Sauropodomorpha
Clade: Sauropoda
Clade: Titanosauria
Clade: Lithostrotia
Family: Saltasauridae
Subfamily: Saltasaurinae
Powell, 1992
Type species
Saltasaurus loricatus Bonaparte and Powell, 1980


Saltasaurus SIZE 01
Size comparison between Saltasaurus and a human.

Saltasaurines are relatively small sauropods with the general body shape of a small head, long neck, four limbs, and a long tail. They range from the modest length of Rocasaurus around 8 m (26 ft), to the comparably larger length of 15 m (49 ft) of Neuquensaurus. However, a currently unnamed fragmentary sauropod from Madagascar may turn out to be a saltasaurine longer than Neuquensaurus. The weight of Saltasaurines is very light compared to that of some of the largest dinosaurs. Thomas R. Holtz Jr. found the genera range from around 7,000 to 21,000 kg (15,000 to 46,000 lb), with Saltasaurus and an unnamed genus on both extremes, respectively.[2]

Saltasaurinae is the only known group of sauropods with armour from almost every species. The most probable reason for the bony studs and plates is that it evolved for defence against theropods like Abelisaurus and Carnotaurus. Saltasaurine armour has led to controversies. In 1929 the paleontologist Friedrich von Huene named the genus Loricosaurus for armour he thought to be from ankylosaurians. These bones were found to have similarities to those later discovered on sauropods like Saltasaurus and Neuquensaurus, and as such, Loricosaurus may be the same as one of the other genera.[2]

Age and distribution

They lived in the late Cretaceous, from the early Campanian to the Maastrichtian (about 80 - 66 million years ago) when they perished along with all other dinosaurs except for birds. Saltasaurus is the only named Saltasaurine that lived later in the Maastrichtian than 68 million years ago. Loricosaurus and Neuquensaurus lived around 71 million years ago and the later surviving Jainosaurus lived around 68 million years ago. An unnamed Saltasaurine from Madagascar would have probably survived later, until the Cretaceous-Paleogene extinction event, around 66 million years ago.[2]

The subfamily Saltasaurinae is known almost completely from the Southern Hemisphere with South American forms. Jainosaurus is the only definite Saltasaurine from outside the Southern Hemisphere and is one of two (the other unnamed) from outside of South America.[2]


In a 1992 study on Saltasaurus, Jaime Powell named a new subfamily within Titanosauridae (a family now considered invalid). He named this group Saltasaurinae, and found many features uniting the group, of the type genus and Neuquensaurus.[3] This group was later supported and defined by Salgado et al. (1997). They defined the subfamily as "the clade including the most recent common ancestor of Neuquensaurus australis, Saltasaurus loricatus, and all of its descendants". They conducted a phylogeny and found that the subfamily was sister to Alamosaurus and only included Neuquensaurus and Saltasaurus.[4] Paul Sereno defined it in 1998, unaware of Salgado's work and gave it a new definition as a stem clade. His definition was "All saltasaurids more closely related to Saltasaurus than to Opisthocoelicaudia".[5] In 2003 Jeffrey A. Wilson and Paul Upchurch elaborated on this definition to All Saltasauridae more closely related to Saltasaurus loricatus than to Opisthocoelicaudia skaryzinskii.[6]

Osteoderms from Saltasaurus
Bones of Rocasaurus

Below is a cladogram by Poropat and colleagues (2014), finding many genera within Saltasauridae,[1] with the placement of Saltasaurinae after Wilson (2003).[6]


























  1. ^ a b c d Poropat, S.F.; Upchurch, P.; Mannion, P.D.; Hocknull, S.A.; Kear, B.P.; Sloan, T.; Sinapius, G.H.K.; Elliot, D.A. (2014). "Revision of the sauropod dinosaur Diamantinasaurus matildae Hocknull et al. 2009 from the mid-Cretaceous of Australia: Implications for Gondwanan titanosauriform dispersal". Gondwana Research. 27 (3): 995–1033. doi:10.1016/
  2. ^ a b c d e Holtz, Thomas R. Jr. (2011) Dinosaurs: The Most Complete, Up-to-date Encyclopedia for Dinosaur Lovers of All Ages, Winter 2010 Appendix.
  3. ^ Powell, J.E. (1992). Sanz, J.L.; Buscalioni, A.D. (eds.). "Osteologia de Saltasaurus loricatus (Sauropoda - Titanosauridae) del Cretácico Superior del noroeste Argentino" [Osteology of Saltasaurus loricatus (Sauropoda-Titanosauridae) of the Upper Cretaceous of Northwest Argentina] (PDF). Los Dinosaurios y Su Entorno Biotico: Actas del Segundo Curso de Paleontologia in Cuenca: 165–230.
  4. ^ Salgado, L.; Coria, R.A.; Calvo, J.O. (1997). "Evolution of titanosaurid sauropods. I: Phylogenetic Analysis based on the post cranial evidence" (PDF). Ameghiniana. 34 (1): 3–32. ISSN 0002-7014. Archived from the original (PDF) on 2012-03-09.
  5. ^ Sereno, P.C. (2005). "Taxon Saltasaurinae". TaxonSearch. Archived from the original on 2015-04-02.
  6. ^ a b Wilson, J.A.; Upchurch, P. (2003). "A revision of Titanosaurus Lydekker (Dinosauria-Sauropoda), the first dinosaur genus with a "Gondwanan" distribution". Journal of Systematic Palaeontology. 1 (3): 125–160. doi:10.1017/s1477201903001044.

Austroposeidon is an extinct genus of titanosaurian sauropod dinosaur from the Late Cretaceous Presidente Prudente Formation of Brazil. It contains one species, Austroposeidon magnificus.


Bonatitan is a genus of titanosaurian dinosaur from the Late Cretaceous Allen Formation of Argentina.


Daxiatitan is a genus of titanosaur dinosaur from the Lower Cretaceous of Lanzhou Basin, Gansu Province, northwestern China. It is known from fossils including several neck vertebrae, a shoulder blade, and a thigh bone.It was a very large dinosaur, estimated at 23–30 meters (75–98 feet). Like both Euhelopus and Huanghetitan, it had an enormously long neck.


Flagellicaudata is a clade of Dinosauria. It belongs to Sauropoda and includes two families, the Dicraeosauridae and the Diplodocidae.


Futalognkosaurus ( FOO-tə-long-ko-SAW-rəs; meaning "giant chief lizard") is a genus of titanosaurian dinosaur. The herbivorous Futalognkosaurus lived approximately 87 million years ago in the Portezuelo Formation, in what is now Argentina, of the Coniacian stage of the late Cretaceous Period. The fish and fossilized leaf debris on the site, together with other dinosaur remains, suggest a warm tropical climate in Patagonia during this period.


Gravisauria is a clade of sauropod dinosaurs consisting of some genera, Vulcanodontidae and Eusauropoda.


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 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 (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.


Lirainosaurus is a genus of titanosaur sauropod which lived in what is now Spain. The type species, Lirainosaurus astibiae, was described by Sanz, Powell, Le Loeuff, Martinez, and Pereda-Suberbiola in 1999.


Lohuecotitan is an extinct genus of titanosaurian sauropod dinosaur which lived during the Late Cretaceous in Spain. The only species known in the genus is Lohuecotitan pandafilandi, described and named in 2016.


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.


Nemegtosauridae is a family of titanosaurian sauropod dinosaurs based originally on two late Cretaceous Mongolian species known only from their diplodocid-like skulls: Nemegtosaurus and Quaesitosaurus.


Neuquensaurus (meaning "Neuquén lizard") is a genus of saltasaurid sauropod dinosaur that lived in the Late Cretaceous, about 80 million years ago in Argentina and Uruguay in South America. Its fossils were recovered from outcrops of the Anacleto Formation around Cinco Saltos, near the Neuquén river from which its name is derived.


Saltasauridae (named after the Salta region of Argentina where they were first found) — a family of armored herbivorous sauropods from the Upper Cretaceous. They are known from fossils found in South America, Asia, North America, and Europe. They are characterized by their vertebrae and feet, which are similar to those of Saltasaurus, the first of the group to be discovered and the source of the name. The last and largest of the group and only one found in North America, Alamosaurus, was thirty-four metres (112 feet) in length and the last sauropod to go extinct.

Most of the saltasaurids were smaller, around fifteen metres (49 feet) in length, and one, Rocasaurus, was only eight metres (26 feet) long. Like all sauropods, the saltasaurids were quadrupeds, their necks and tails were held almost parallel to the ground, and their small heads had only tiny, peg-like teeth. They were herbivorous, stripping leaves off of plants and digesting them in their enormous guts. Although large animals, they were smaller than other sauropods of their time, and many possessed distinctive additional defenses in the form of scutes along their backs.


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.


Tangvayosaurus (meaning "Tang Vay lizard") is a genus of sauropod dinosaur from the Aptian-Albian age Lower Cretaceous Grès Supérior Formation of Savannakhet, Laos. It was a basal somphospondylan, about 15 m long, and is known from the remains of two or three individuals.


Titanosaurs (members of the group Titanosauria) were a diverse group of sauropod dinosaurs which included Saltasaurus and Isisaurus of Africa, Asia, South America, Europe and Australia. The titanosaurs were the last surviving group of long-necked sauropods, with taxa still thriving at the time of the extinction event at the end of the Cretaceous. The group includes the largest land animals known to have existed, such as Patagotitan—estimated at 37 m (121 ft) long with a weight of 69 tonnes (76 tons)—and the comparably sized Argentinosaurus and Puertasaurus from the same region. The group's name alludes to the mythological Titans of Ancient Greece, via the type genus (now considered a nomen dubium) Titanosaurus. Together with the brachiosaurids and relatives, titanosaurs make up the larger clade Titanosauriformes.


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.


This page is based on a Wikipedia article written by authors (here).
Text is available under the CC BY-SA 3.0 license; additional terms may apply.
Images, videos and audio are available under their respective licenses.