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BLIKANASAURUS

a herbivorous sauropodomorph dinosaur from the Late Triassic of South Africa.
image
Pronunciation: bli-KAHN-a-SOR-us
Meaning: Blikana lizard
Author/s: Galton and van Heerden (1985)
Synonyms: None known
First Discovery: Cape Province, South Africa
Chart Position: 251

Blikanasaurus cromptoni

Known simply as "the Blikana dinosaur" from its discovery in 1965 until its official description two decades later, Blikanasaurus was long represented by just a partial hindlimb and was something of an enigma. Its remains were bolstered in 2008 by a second specimen found by J.W. Kitching amongst a job lot of surface tat found at the farm Damplaats in the Eastern Free State's Ladybrand District in 1984. But a single short and robust foot bone didn't really change much, apart from expanding its range some 250 km north.

The leg of Blikanasaurus is extremely stocky with strong ankle bones and unusually-positioned toes, and was long thought to be the property of a giant non-sauropod sauropodomorph (aka "prosauropod"), most of which walked on two legs. However, such a robust limb almost certainly belongs to a heavily-built animal that moved slowly on all-fours, not unlike the giant, highly successful, four legged sauropods that thrived until the Latest Cretaceous extinction. Unfortunately, Blikanasaurus was on the wrong trajectory and was slowly moving towards an evolutionary dead end. Or so we were led to believe.

Although many scientists have brushed Blikanasaurus off as nothing more than an early experiment in sauropodomorph four-legged-ness that was doomed to failure, the latest round of research suggests it may be one of the oldest true sauropods afterall.

(Crompton's Bilkana Lizard)Etymology
Blikanasaurus is derived from "Blikana" (for Blikana mountain, close to its place of discovery) and the Greek "sauros" (lizard). The species epithet, cromptoni, is named in honor of Alfred W. "fuzz" Crompton, a pioneer of fossil discoveries in South Africa who, along with M.L. Wapenaar, initially assigned its remains to Melanorosaurus, albeit in an unpublished description.
Discovery
The remains of Blikanasaurus were discovered in the "Passage Beds" of the Lower Elliot Formation (Stormberg group, Karoo supergroup), 1.6 km northeast of Blikana Trading Store, Herschel District, Transkei, eastern Cape Province, South Africa, by Dr. Chris Gow in January 1962.
The holotype (SAM K403) is the lower part of an "extremely stocky" left leg. A second specimen (BP/1/5271a), plucked from a jumble of "surface float" that J.W. Kitching collected from a "donga" (gully) in the Ladybrand district of the Eastern Free State, South Africa, in 1984, ammounts to a single metatarsal (foot bone). This same gully yielded the only known articulated skeleton and skull of Melanorosaurus readi and the holotype of Eocursor parvus.
Estimations
Timeline:
Era: Mesozoic
Epoch: Triassic
Stage: Norian
Age range: 228-209 mya
Stats:
Est. max. length: 5 meters
Est. max. hip height: ?
Est. max. weight: 400 Kg
Diet: Herbivore
Family Tree:
Dinosauria
Saurischia
Sauropodomorpha
Sauropoda
Blikanasauridae
Blikanasaurus
cromptoni
References
• Galton P and J van-Heerden (1985) "Partial hindlimb of Blikanasaurus cromptoni n. gen. and n. sp., representing a new family of prosauropod dinosaurs from the Upper Triassic of South Africa". Geobios, Volume 18, Issue 4, Pages 509–516. doi:10.1016/S0016-6995(85)80003-6
• Galton P and J van-Heerden (1998) "Anatomy of the prosauropod dinosaur Blikanasaurus cromptoni (Upper Triassic, South Africa), with notes on the other tetrapods of the lower Elliot Formation".
• Upchurch P, PM Barrett and P Dodson (2004) "Sauropoda" in Weishampel, Dodson and Osmólska "The Dinosauria: Second Edition".
• Yates AM (2008) "A second specimen of Blikanasaurus (Dinosauria: Sauropoda) and the biostratigraphy of the lower Elliot Formation". Palaeont. afr. (April 2008) 43: 39–43.
• Otero A and D Pol (2013) "Postcranial anatomy and phylogenetic relationships of Mussaurus patagonicus (Dinosauria, Sauropodomorpha)". Journal of Vertebrate Paleontology 33(5):1138-1168.
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To cite this page:
Atkinson, L. "BLIKANASAURUS :: from DinoChecker's dinosaur archive".
›. Web access: 27th Apr 2017.
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