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Categories: SauropodaHerbivoreIndiaKotaEarly Jurassic

BARAPASAURUS

Barapasaurus
Pronunciation: buh-RAH-pa-SOR-us
Meaning: Big-legged Lizard
Authors: Jain, Kutty, et al. (1975)
Previous names: None known
First discovery: Andhra Pradesh, India
Roar factor: 3/10

Barapasaurus tagorei

In 1959 one of the most primitive sauropods ever was unearthed in the Kota Formation at Pochampalli Village, Maharashtra, 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, and we had to wait 35 years while paleontologists sifted through 300 bones from six individuals found scattered around a fossilized tree trunk-laden site before anyone so much as picked up a pen and wrote a new word about it. Funnily enough, there was no skull amongst these remains, and no feet either, but this sort of thing has never curbed scientists love of a wild stab in the dark and experts reckon Barapasaurus may have been around 18 meters long, 5.5 meters high at the hip, and tipped the scales at a very respectable 14 tons... which is exactly the same weight as 63,503 weasels.

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 - the block of fused sacral (hip) vertebrae which joins the last dorsal (back) vertebrae to the first caudal (tail) vertebrae.
Estimations
Timeline:
Era: Mesozoic
Period: Early Jurassic
Timespan: 199-175 million years ago
Age: Hettangian-Toarcian
Vital Stats:
Est. Max. Length: 18.5 meters
Est. Max. Height: ?
Est. Max. Weight: 14 tons
Diet: Herbivorous
References
• S.L. Jain, T.S. Kutty, T. Roy-Chowdhury and S. Chatterjee (1975) "The sauropod from the Lower Jurassic Kota formation of India".
• Saswati Bandyopadhyay, David D. Gillette, Sanghamitra Ray, Dhurjati P. Sengupta (2009) "Osteology of Barapasaurus tagorei (Dinosauria: Sauropoda) from the Early Jurassic of India".
• Upchurch, Barrett, Dodson (2004) Chapter Thirteen "Sauropoda" in Weishampel, Dodson and Osmólska's "The Dinosauria: Second Edition". /uk.
• K.C. Rogers and J. Wilson (2006) "The Sauropods: Evolution and Paleobiology". /uk.
                    
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To cite this page:
Lee Atkinson (DinoChecker) "BARAPASAURUS: from DinoChecker's dinosaur archive".
http://www.dinochecker.com/dinosaurs/BARAPASAURUS. Web access: 16th Sep 2014.