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ALBALOPHOSAURUS

a plant eating cerapodan dinosaur from the Early Cretaceous of Japan.
Pronunciation: AL-ba-LOH-fo-SOR-us
Meaning: White Crest Lizard
Author/s: Ohashi and Barrett (2009)
Synonyms: None known
First Discovery: Ishikawa Prefecture, Japan
Chart Position: 567

Albalophosaurus yamaguchiorum

The remains of Albalophosaurus aren't the best, truth be told, but they are also better than anyone ever expected, given their run-in with Rein Tunnel building contractors who smashed 40 meters into a hillside in Hakusan city and right through Kuwajima Fossil Bluff. All things considered, it's a miracule that Albalophosaurus could even be identified as the third valid dinosaur to be described from Japan. But it's also a little sad that its partial skull—found amongst the remnants of mollusks, fish, amphibians, squamates, turtles and their scrambled eggs, battered choristoderes, pterosaurs, synapsids, mammals and a bird, fragments of ornithischians, an iguanodont and a theropod, and isolated sauropod teeth—is the most complete dinosaur known from the area. We can't help thinking that the powers-that-be should have built their poxy road tunnel elsewhere.

Given its sparce and fragmentary nature, it is quite understandable that Albalophosaurus has been a bugger to classify. Its authors toyed with the notion that it may have been a ceratopsian, but conceded that it didn't actually sport any of the derived features that make ceratopsians ceratopsians. So instead, they assigned it to Cerapoda—the basalmost group of neornithischian dinosaurs that aren't just neornithischians—but added incertae sedis, meaning "of uncertain placement". A novel result arrived in a 2012 study by Han, Barrett, Butler and Xu, whose analysis found Albalophosaurus to be a member of Marginocephalia—a slightly more exclusive club of cerapods that includes both the horn-faced ceratopsians and the head-banging pachycephalosaurs. But again, within that particular group, its placement is uncertain.
(Yamaguchi's white crest lizard)Etymology
Albalophosaurus is derived from the Latin "albus" (white), and the Greek "lophos" (crest) and "sauros" (lizard), referring to the snow-capped peaks of Mount Hakusan which are so high they remain white even after surrounding mountains have lost their snow. The species epithet, yamaguchiorum, honors Ichio and Mikiko Yamaguchi, who prepared the holotype, and discovered and cleaned many more fossils from the same site.
Discovery
The remains of Albalophosaurus were discovered at Kuwajima "Kaseki Kabe" (Fossil Bluff) in the Kuwajima Formation (Tetori Group) at Hakusan City, Ishikawa Prefecture, central Honshu, Japan. It could have been disastrous when a road tunnel was cut right through these fossil-bearing beds between 1997 and 2000. But the Hakusan City Board of Education stock-piled 16,700 m3 of rock from the construction site for future palaeontological research, and that decision paid off big time when one of their staff—Yoshinori Kobayashi—discovered Albalophosaurus during the first year. The holotype (SBEI 176) consists of bones from an incomplete, disarticulated skull and left lower jaw thought to belong to a single individual.
Estimations
Timeline:
Era: Mesozoic
Epoch: Early Cretaceous
Stage: Valanginian-Hauterivian
Age range: 140-130 mya
Stats:
Est. max. length: ?
Est. max. hip height: ?
Est. max. weight: ?
Diet: Herbivore
Family Tree:
Dinosauria
Ornithischia
Neornithischia
Cerapoda
Marginocephalia
?Ceratopsia?
Albalophosaurus
yamaguchiorum
References
• Ohashi T and Barrett P M (2009) "A new ornithischian dinosaur from the Lower Cretaceous Kuwajima Formation of Japan". Journal of Vertebrate Paleontology. 29 (3): 748–757.
• Han F-L, Barrett P M, Butler R J and Xu X (2012) "Postcranial anatomy of Jeholosaurus shangyuanensis (Dinosauria, Ornithischia) from the Lower Cretaceous Yixian Formation of China". Journal of Vertebrate Paleontology. 32(6): 1370-1395.
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To cite this page:
Atkinson, L. "ALBALOPHOSAURUS :: from DinoChecker's dinosaur archive".
›. Web access: 10th Dec 2017.
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