Welcome to our BOTHRIOSPONDYLUS entry...
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a dubious sauropod, possibly a titanosauriform, from the Middle Jurassic of England.
Pronunciation: BOTH-ree-o-SPON-di-lus
Meaning: Furrowed vertebra
Author/s: Owen (1875)
Synonyms: None known
First Discovery: Wiltshire, England
Chart Position: 26

About Bothriospondylus

In his 1875 Monograph on the Mesozoic British Reptilia (Part II), Richard Owen coined the first species of BothriospondylusBothriospondylus suffossus—for a quartet of back vertebrae from Wiltshire and based its diagnosis on what turned out to be adolescent characteristics that are widespread throughout Sauropoda. That makes Bothriospondylus dubious, straight off the bat. But it gets worse. Owen named three other species at the same time—Bothriospondylus elongatus and Bothriospondylus robustus (which were hostile takeover attempts of Ornithopsis that Seeley had named five years earlier) and Bothriospondylus magnus. He also managed to rename Bothriospondylus robustus to "Marmarospondylus"... in a footnote of the very same article!

The Bothriospondylus-driven English sauropod carousel continued when Bothriospondylus magnus was renamed Chondrosteosaurus magnus by Owen, and Bothriospondylus suffossus was erroneously assigned to Pelorosaurus (von Huene, 1908) then used to raise an Ornithopsis suffossa (von Huene, 1922). Subsequently, fossils were assigned to Bothryospondylus from far more exotic places than England (we're allowed to say that 'cos we're English) and soon it traversed the Middle Jurassic to the early Late Cretaceous of five different countries on three continents. Worse still, when Phil Mannion waded into the carnage in 2010, he discovered that its remains belonged to five different sauropod families too, and even we—while far from the sharpest tools in the shed—can see that this is unpossible.

Bothriospondylus suffossus.
Based on four back vertebrae (BMNH R44592-5) and three referred hip vertebrae (BMNH 44589–44591) from a quarry of the "Swindon Brick and Tile Company" in Wiltshire's Late Jurassic Kimmeridge Clay, Bothriospondylus suffossus (commonly misspelt "suffosus") is the Bothriospondylus name-bearer. Unfortunately, its fossils are garbage and most palaeontologists afford it little more than the occasional suspicious glance these days. Thulborn tentatively assigned five titanosauriform teeth to it in 1973, but they lack diagnostic features and, in 1902, Nopcsa provisionally added a vertebra from the Late Cretaceous Candeleros Formation of Barda Alarcon, Argentina. Despite being lost, Calvo and Salgado referred the latter to the rebbachisaurid Limaysaurus (‘Rebbachisaurus’) tessonei in 1995, and Apesteguía made it the holotype of Nopcsaspondylus alarconensis twelve years later.

Bothriospondylus magnus.
Rejecting Ornithopsis hulkei, because its name—meaning "bird likeness"—was based on Seeley's opinion that it formed a bridge between pterosaurs and birds and would probably manifest some affinities with dinosaurs, Owen renamed one of its two back vertebrae—BMNH R28632 from the Early Cretaceous Wessex Formation on the Isle of Wight—Bothriospondylus magnus in 1875. A year later he renamed the same fossil again, this time settling on Chondrosteosaurus magnus. Then Hulke assigned it to Ornithopsis as Ornithopsis eucamerotus in 1882. Despite Owen's dislike of Seeley and his theories, Ornithopsis hulkei is a valid titanosauriform dinosaur that has priority over the names that both he and Hulke chose because it was coined first. William Blows confirmed BMNH R28632 as the lectotype of Ornithopsis hulkei in 1995.

Bothriospondylus elongatus.
Owen referred the other Ornithopsis vertebrae, BMNH R2239 from the Early Cretaceous Hastings Beds Group of Tilgate, West Sussex, that he initially identified as an Iguanodon skull bone in 1941, to Bothriospondylus elongatus in 1875. Unlike BMNH R28632, however, BMNH R2239 lacks diagnostic features and is considered a nomen dubium.

Bothriospondylus robustus.
Owen named Bothriospondylus robustus for a single vertebra (NHM 22428) from the Middle Jurassic Forest Marble Formation of Wessex and managed to rename it "Marmarospondylus" in a footnote of the same paper! Palaeontologists have since suggested a new name for it; invalid.

French Bothriospondylus.
Informally tagged "the French Bothriospondylus" because, well, it was discovered in France; specifically the Late Jurassic Belvoye limestone quarry (then owned by the Solvay Group, but now by the Inovyn co.) at Damparis, this critter was first described by Dorlodot in 1934. Albert de Lapparent redescribed its partial skeleton in 1943 and, after identifying it as the property of a brachiosaurid, referred it to Bothriospondylus madagascariensis. It probably doesn't belong to Bothriospondylus but does appear to be a brachiosaurid.

Bothriospondylus madagascariensis.
J. L. Last and E. Gerrard collected the first remains of Bothriospondylus madagascariensis in the Isalo III Formation of Mahajanga, Madagascar, and sold them to the Natural History Museum, London, in 1894. Lyddekker coined the name in 1895. More material was collected by Captain Colcanap near Befotaka, Andranosamonta and Marojano on the left bank of the Doroa between 1896 and 1905, by Colcanap and the unfortunately-named Mr Bastard at Antsohihy in 1896 and 1903, and by Mr. Moriceau, Mr De Bouvie and Mr Perrier at several other sites in the area. Boule (1896) and Thevenin (1907) assigned all of these remains to Bothriospondylus madagascariensis, and Ogier followed suit in 1975 with five juvenile specimens that L. Ginsburg had found in the Isalo III Formation at Andranomany in 1962. In 1986, Bonaparte gave Ogier's critters a new name: Lapparentosaurus madagascariensis, and referred all of the other macronarian fossils to it.
However, there is still a "Bothriospondylus madagascarienses" (enclosed in quotes) floating around, because some of the Madagascan material has potentially distinctive features that may well see it removed from Lapparentosaurus.
(Undermined furrowed vertebra)Etymology
Bothriospondylus is derived from the Greek "bothrion" (furrow, trench, little ditch) and "spondylos" (vertebra) for the cavities or pleurocoels in its hip vertebrae.
The species epithet, suffossus (often incorrectly spelled as "suffosus"), means "undermined" in Latin, suggesting said cavities had compromised the strength of the vertebrae.
The first remains of Bothriospondylus suffossus were discovered at a quarry of the "Swindon Brick and Tile Company" in the Kimmeridge Clay of Wiltshire, and were reported by company director James K. Shopland.
The holotype (BMNH R44592-5) is a set of four dorsal (back) vertebrae. Three hip vertebrae (BMNH 44589–44591) were also referred here.
Era: Mesozoic
Epoch: Middle Jurassic
Stage: Kimmeridgian
Age range: 156-151 mya
Est. max. length: ?
Est. max. hip height: ?
Est. max. weight: ?
Diet: Herbivore
Family Tree:
• Owen R (1875) "Monographs on the British fossil Reptilia of the Mesozoic Formations, Part II (Genera Bothriospondylus, Cetiosaurus, Omosaurus)". Palaeontographical Society Monographs, 29, 15–94.
• Nopcsa F (1902) "Notizen uber Cretacischen Dinosaurier. Pt. 3. Wirbel eines sudamerikanischen Sauropoden". Akademie der Wissenschaften, 3, 108–114.
• Seeley HG (1870) "On Ornithopsis, a gigantic animal of the pterodactyle kind from the Wealden". Annals and Magazine of Natural History (Fourth Series), 5, 279–283.
• Thevenin A (1907) "Paléontologie de Madagascar". Annales de Paléontologie, 2, 121–136.
• Dorlodot J de (1934) "L’exploration du gîte à dinosauriens jurassiques de Damparis". La Terre et la Vie 10:563-586.
• Lapparent A-F de (1943) "Les dinosaures jurassiques de Damparis (Jura)". Mémoires de la Société Géologique de France, Nouvelle Série 47:1-21.
• Thulborn RA (1973) "Teeth of ornithischian dinosaurs from the Upper Jurassic of Portugal". Memória dos Serviços Geológicos de Portugal (Nuova Séria), 22, 89–134.
• Läng É and F. Goussard F (2007) "Redescription of the wrist and manus of ?Bothriospondylus madagascariensis: new data on carpus morphology in Sauropoda".
• Apesteguía S (2007) "The sauropod diversity of the La Amarga Formation (Barremian), Neuquén (Argentina)". Gondwana Research, 12, 533–546.
• Mannion PD (2010) "A revision of the sauropod dinosaur genus 'Bothriospondylus' with a redescription of the type material of the Middle Jurassic form B. madagascariensis". Palaeontology, Vol. 53, Part 2, 2010, pp. 277–296
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To cite this page:
Atkinson, L. "BOTHRIOSPONDYLUS :: from DinoChecker's dinosaur archive".
›. Web access: 25th May 2017.