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ERECTOPUS

a meat-eating allosauroid theropod dinosaur from the Early Cretaceous of France.
Pronunciation: ee-REK-toe-puss
Meaning: Upright foot
Author/s: von Huene (1923)
Synonyms: Megalosaurus superbus
First Discovery: La Pentheive, France
Chart Position: 100

Erectopus superbus

Based on two teeth and a vertebra from the private collection of Louis Pierson, plus a partial left maxilla (tooth bearing bone from the left side of the upper jaw), hand, leg and foot bones found sometime later, Erectopus was originally named Megalosaurus superbus by Henri-Émile Sauvage in 1882 and it didn't receive its current name until a visit from serial Megalosaurus-fiddler Friedrich von Huene in 1923.

Concluding that Sauvage had designated the Pierson bits (first described but not named by Charles Barrois in 1875) as holotype, Von Huene coined Erectopus sauvagei in 1932 for the later material which he believed belonged to a different critter entirely. He even refused to call Sauvage's critter Erectopus, such was the massive difference in size, shape and design of the specimens in his mind, and referred to it only as "Gen. indeterm. superbus". The latter doesn't actually constitute a valid scientific name, not that it matters much. Both species quickly faded into the mists of time and neither were afforded so much as a passing mention in the scientific literature for over seven decades.

Erectopus is a medium-sized theropod which whipped up much interest back in the day because of what were thought to be highly unique features. However, most of these unusual features were suspected by modern paleontologists of being cock-ups borne of schoolboy exuberance, a common problem with dinosaurs named during the 1800s, but no-one bothered with a scientific review because its remains were thought long lost, perhaps blown to smithereens during World War II.

Suprisingly, the original maxilla turned up in a fossil dealer's shop window and casts of some of the later bones were rediscovered in the MNHN, Paris, which afforded Ronan Allain a crack at re-evaluation. In 2005 he concluded that all of the remaining fossils mentioned thus far belonged to Erectopus superbus ("Proud upright foot") and that it's an allosauroid, the youngest known from the entire Lower Cretaceous of Europe, no less, and the third European Early Cretaceous-aged member of Allosauroidea to be identified as such behind the "Montmirat theropod" (Pérez-Mereno et al. 1993) of southern France and Neovenator salerii (Hutt et al. 1996) from the Isle of Wight.
(Proud upright foot)Etymology
Erectopus superbus has nothing to do with erections, cats or buses, not even super-buses. It means upright foot from the Latin "erectus" (upright, erect) and the Greek "pous" (foot), named for the shape of its femur; "the hind leg must have been straighter than in Megalosaurus" said von Huene, thus the name. The species epithet, superbus, means "proud" in Latin.
Discovery
The first fossils of Erectopus superbus were discovered in the Phosphate-bearing beds of La Penthèive at Louppy-le-Château in eastern France, which have also produced remains of plesiosaurs, ichthyosaurs, and crocodiles.
The holotype (MNHN 2001-4) is a maxilla; the main tooth-bearing bone of the upper jaw.
Estimations
Timeline:
Era: Mesozoic
Epoch: Early Cretaceous
Stage: Albian
Age range: 112-99 mya
Stats:
Est. max. length: 4 meters
Est. max. hip height: ?
Est. max. weight: 200 Kg
Diet: Carnivore
References
• R. Allain (2005) "The enigmatic theropod dinosaur Erectopus superbus (Sauvage, 1882) from the Lower Albian of Louppy-le-Château (Meuse, France)" in K. Carpenter "The Carnivorous Dinosaurs".
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To cite this page:
Atkinson, L. "ERECTOPUS :: from DinoChecker's dinosaur archive".
›. Web access: 24th May 2017.
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