Episode 267 is all about Melanorosaurus, the Triassic “Black Mountain Lizard” sauropodomorph from South Africa.
We also interview Tom Rich and Patricia Vickers-Rich, two incredibly accomplished paleontologists in Melbourne, Australia. They have worked together on countless projects. Most importantly to dinosaur fans, they named Leaellynasaura, Timimus, Atlascopcosaurus, and others from the Victoria coast. Here is a PDF on the Dinosaur Dreaming project that led to many discoveries. Checkout Prime Sci to see their work with science education. And if you’re in the area, check out the Singapore Science Centre or the Melbourne Museum. If you’re not near either, you can see our video of the Melbourne Museum here.
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In this episode, we discuss:
- The new allosauroid, Asfaltovenator, was described from Jurassic Argentina source
- Ten new polar dinosaur feathers were described from Australia source
- Coffs Harbour Butterfly House in New South Wales, Australia, has opened their dinosaur forest source
- In Reno, Nevada, you can go to Jurassic Empire on Jan 11 and 12. source
- In Cardiff, Wales, you can have a sleepover with Dippy the Diplodocus while he’s visiting on Saturday January 25 source
The dinosaur of the day: Melanorosaurus
- Sauropodomorph that lived in the Late Triassic in what is now South Africa (Elliot Formation)
- Probably herbivore
- Had four teeth on each side of the premaxilla and 19 teeth on each side of the maxilla
- Quadrupedal, with sturdy limbs like a sauropod and a large body
- Estimated to be about 26 ft (8 m) long and weigh 1.3 tons
- Probably a facultative biped, which means it could walk or run on two legs, but normally used four
- Had a somewhat pointed snout
- Had a triangular skull
- Type species: Melanorosaurus readi
- Found on the north slope of the Thaba ‘Nyama (Black Mountain) in Eastern Cape and Free State Provinces, South Africa
- Genus name means “Black Mountain Lizard”
- Described in 1924 by Sidney Haughton
- Used to have a second species: Melanorosaurus thabensis, named in 1993 by François-Xavier Gauffre based on a femur found in the Elliot Formation of Lesotho in 1959. In 2016, a study found that femur and other bones were actually a new type of dinosaur, Meroktenos thabanensis
- Synonym is Roccosaurus tetrascralis, named in 1984 by Van Herdeen and others, but now considered to be a nomen nudum (not much info on it)
- Haughton wrote in 1924, “The bones consist of a tibia, a fibula, part of the pelvis, some vertebrae and metatarsals, together with a femur lying partly embedded in the overlying sandstone and the proximal half of a humerus found weathered down the slope. They are in the collection of the South African Museum (Cat. Nos. 3449, 3450).”
- In 1979 Van Heerden analyzed the type material and assigned most of it to Euskelosaurus, except for a sacral, tibia, and femur
- In 1997 Van Heerden and Peter Galton referred another specimen to Melanorosaurus readi based on the femurs being similar
- In 2005, Galton, Van Heerden, and Yates said that many additional bones, mostly of Plateosauravus were assigned to Melanorosaurus since 1924
- They also referred a new specimen to Melanorosaurus readi, and said the dinosaurs was a “Sauropodomorpha incertae sedis pending further analysis of the holotype and of all the referred specimens”
- In 2007, Yates revised diagnosis of some of the specimens, but not the type specimens (there were two, this is known as a syntype)
- Yates also described a referred skull
- Some uncertainty around Melanorosaurus now, since the syntype specimens haven’t been studied in a while, and should be reexamined to identify diagnostic features, and the way scientists think of Melanorosaurus now is based on referred specimens
- But some of the referred specimens are indirectly referred (they’re referred based on a referred specimen), so it seems Melanorosaurus in general needs to be reexamined
- Syntype (both specimens) are housed in Cape Town and the referred specimens stored at the National Museum of Bloemfontein in South Africa
Fun Fact: Benjamin Kear, Tom Rich, Patricia Vickers-Rich, and others described the first identifiable dinosaurs found in Saudi Arabia.
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