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DATOUSAURUS

a plant-eating mamenchisaurid sauropod dinosaur from the Middle Jurassic of China.
Datousaurus size
Pronunciation: dah-too-SOR-us
Meaning: Big head lizard
Author/s: Dong and Tang (
1984)
Synonyms: None known
First Discovery: Sichuan, China
Chart Position: 250

Datousaurus bashanensis

When two or more creatures of similar type, shape, and dietary preference share the same area, at least one of them has generally undergone some kind of evolutionary fiddling to minimize competition. And so it was with Datousaurus, who lived alongside Shunosaurus at Dashanpu, and had been blessed with thirteen elongated neck vertebrae so it could outstretch its neighbour. Unfortunately, the mamenchisaurid Omeisaurus also shared the area, and with its noodle-neck it could outstretch both to feast upon the treetops which, incidently, is where the most tender and flavour-packed leaves reside.

Shunosaurus had the shortest neck of all the sauropods bar one (Brachytrachelopan), but its long and slender jaws with many slim-but-chisel-tipped teeth suggest it didn't pull the shortest straw with regards to dibs on vegetation. Datousaurus had a stupendously heavy skull with deep, robust and powerful jaws, and fewer-but-wider large spoon-shaped teeth which suggests it was relegated to feasting on the toughest, twiggiest, and most tasteless low-lying chow in the forest. Presuming, of course, that it actually owned this powerful plant-processing noggin.

Datousaurus was named in a "note" in 1984 and described as a "pimitive saoropod" (sic) on the strength of two complete-ish skeletons by Dong and Tang who highlighted features such as robust limbs, five-digits on its pes (hands) and manus (feet), forked chevrons, and a pair of nares (nostrils) "in the front of the face". However, what the authors didn't tell us at the time is that its seemingly oversized, deep and boxy Camarasaurus-like skull, with perhaps the most massive jaws of all the sauropod dinosaurs, was found detached and some distance from the body to which it was assigned. Some paleontologists question whether this skull actually belongs to the same specimen, or even the same species.

Etymology
Datousaurus is derived from the Chinese "da tou" (big head) and the Greek "sauros" (lizard). Dautou also means "chieftain" in Malay. There have certainly been some big headed chieftains down the years. The species epithet, bashanensis, means "from Bashan" in Latin.
Discovery
The remains of Datousaurus were discovered at Dashanpu Dinosaur Quarry in the Lower Shaximiao (Xiashaximiao) Formation, Dashanpu, Zigong, Sichuan Province, China, in 1979-1981. Only two specimens have been found, compared to other sauropod species which are often preserved in large numbers in a single deposit, which hints at a pretty solitary lifestyle. The holotype (IVPP V 7262) is a partial skeleton with a later-assigned skull (V 7263).
Estimations
Timeline:
Era: Mesozoic
Epoch: Middle Jurassic
Stage: Bathonian-Callovian
Age range: 168-163 mya
Stats:
Est. max. length: 12 meters
Est. max. hip height: 3.5 meters
Est. max. weight: 9 tons
Diet: Herbivore
Family Tree:
Dinosauria
Saurischia
Sauropodomorpha
Sauropoda
?Mamenchisauridae
Datousaurus
bashanensis
References
• Dong and Tang (1984) "Note on a new Mid-Jurassic sauropod (Datousaurus bashanensis gen. et sp. nov.) from Sichuan Basin, China". Vertebrata PalAsiatica 22(1):69-75
• Zhiming Dong (1992) "Dinosaurian Faunas of China". China Ocean Press, Beijing.
• "Datousaurus" in "The Age of Dinosaurs": Peter Dodson & Brooks Britt, Kenneth Carpenter & Catherine A. Forster, David D. Gillette & Mark A. Norell, George Olshevsky & Michael J. Parrish, David B. Weishampel.
• CAO You-Shu and YOU Hai-Lu (2000) "The jaw of Datousaurus bashanensis Dong and Tang, 1984".
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To cite this page:
Atkinson, L. "DATOUSAURUS :: from DinoChecker's dinosaur archive".
›. Web access: 26th Mar 2017.
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