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BARAPASAURUS

a herbivorous cetiosaurid sauropod dinosaur from the Early Jurassic of India.
Barapasaurus
Pronunciation: buh-RAH-pa-SOR-us
Meaning: Big-legged Lizard
Author/s: Jain, Kutty, et al. (1975)
Synonyms: None known
First Discovery: Andhra Pradesh, India
Chart Position: 201

Barapasaurus tagorei

In 1959 one of the most primitive sauropods ever was unearthed in the Kota Formation at Pochampalli Village in India, and when Jain, Kutty, Roy-Chowdhury and Chatterjee named it Barapasaurus — big-legged lizard — a mere sixteen years later they weren't joking. But the "bigness" wasn't restricted to its legs.

Barapasaurus may have been the first sauropod to become truly huge but because it was around before "posh" sauropods developed their niche strategies and honed their new-fangled weight saving features it was a bit cumbersome, even by sauropod standards, because its bones were virtually solid with only the faintest whiff of hollowing.

Barapasaurus was afforded just a preliminary description in 1975, but we had to wait twenty years for anyone to pick up a pen and write a new word about it, then another fourteen while paleontologists sifted through three-hundred bones from six individuals found scattered around a petrified-tree trunk-laden site before the full description arrived. Funnily enough, there was no skull amongst those remains, and no feet either. But that sort of thing has never curbed scientists' enthusiasm, and some experts reckon Barapasaurus may have been around fifteen meters long, four meters high at the hip, and tipped the scales at a very respectable 14 tons... which is about the same weight as 63,503 weasels. It's true.

Although not initially assigned to any particular family within Sauropoda, the first meaningful crack at cladistic analysis by Paul Upchurch in 1995 plonked Barapasaurus squarely in a group called Eusauropoda, albeit in a rather basal position. As it turns out, Barapasaurus is even more primitive than the archaic Vulcanodon according to the latest review by Bandyopadhyay in 2010, and while it's still a "true" sauropod, in the sense that it's, well, a sauropod as opposed to a non-sauropod sauropodomorph or prosauropod, it is no longer classed as a member of Eusauropoda, which literally means "true sauropods". Go figure.
(Tagore's Big-Legged Lizard) Etymology
Barapasaurus is derived from the Bengali "bara" (big) and "pa" (leg), and the Greek "sauros" (lizard). The species epithet, tagorei, honors the great Indian poet Rabindranath Tagore.
Discovery
The remains of Barapasaurus were discovered in a 276 meter square area of the Kota Formation in the vicinity of Pochampalli village, Maharashtra, India, in 1959, but they weren't described until 1975. The holotype (ISI R. 50), plucked from a hotch-potch of 300 bones, is a distinctly narrow sacrum - a block of four fused sacral (hip) vertebrae which joins the last dorsal (back) vertebrae to the first caudal (tail) vertebrae. Of the skull, only three crowns and three whole teeth are known, the largest of which is 5.8 cm in height.
Estimations
Timeline:
Era: Mesozoic
Epoch: Early Jurassic
Stage: Hettangian-Toarcian
Age range: 199-175 mya
Stats:
Est. max. length: 15 meters
Est. max. hip height: 4 meters
Est. max. weight: 14 tons
Diet: Herbivore
References
• Jain SL, Kutty TS, Roy-Chowdhury T and Chatterjee S (1975) "The sauropod from the Lower Jurassic Kota formation of India". Proceedings of the Royal Society of London, Series B, Biological Sciences, Volume 188, Issue 1091 (18th February, 1975): 221-228.
• Upchurch P (1995) "The evolutionary history of sauropod dinosaurs".
Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society of London, Series B, 349: 365-390.
• Upchurch P, Barrett P and Dodson P (2004) Chapter Thirteen "Sauropoda" in Weishampel, Dodson and Osmólska (eds.) "The Dinosauria: Second Edition". University of California Press.
• Rogers KC and Wilson J (2006) "The Sauropods: Evolution and Paleobiology". U of C Press.
• Bandyopadhyay S, Gillette DD, Ray S and Sengupta DP (2009) "Osteology of Barapasaurus tagorei (Dinosauria: Sauropoda) from the Early Jurassic of India". Palaeontology 53(3): 533–569.
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To cite this page:
Atkinson, L. "BARAPASAURUS :: from DinoChecker's dinosaur archive".
›. Web access: 21st Aug 2017.
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