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SAUROPHAGANAX

a meat-eating allosaurid theropod dinosaur from the Late Jurassic of North America.
Pronunciation: SOR-o-FAG-uh-naks
Meaning: King of the lizard eaters
Author/s: Chure (1995)
Synonyms: None known
First Discovery: Oklahoma, USA
Chart Position: 340

Saurophaganax maximus

When John Willis Stovall discovered some theropod dinosaur remains near Kenton, Oklahoma, and named them "Saurophagus" (lizard eater) in an article by journalist Grace Ernestine Ray in 1941, he didn't nominate a holotype, even though he gave himself a decade to pick one. A revisit by Lucas, Mateer, Hunt and O'Neill prompted the assignment of a tibia or shinbone (OMNH 4666) as lectotype—a retrospective holotype, of sorts—in 1987. Then it all went pear-shaped.

In 1995 it was realised that the name Saurophagus had been assigned to a tyrant flycatcher (a "lizard-eating" bird) by William John Swainson 110 years earlier and the lectotype tibia was tagged non-diognostic. With the remaining Kenton remains up for grabs Dan Chure nabbed a neural arch as holotype, salvaged whatever fossils were distinguishable from the same area's Allosaurus, cunningly replaced -us with -anax and, hey presto, Saurophaganax was added to the roll call of dinosaurs. Despite bearing an uncanny resemblance to the original name, Chure was quick to stress that Saurophaganax is not a like-for-like replacement for Saurophagus but an all-new critter in its own right. Ironically, Swainson's Saurophagus turned out to be synonymous with an omnivorous bird called Pitangus, which he had named himself in 1827.

At over twelve meters long and close to four tons in weight, Saurophaganax rivalled Tyrannosaurus rex, at least length-wise, and some even larger fossils of this most reclusive carnivore may have been discovered in New Mexico. Catalogued as NMMNH P-26083 and including a femur, several tail vertebrae and a hip bone, this new specimen of Saurophaganax should prove once and for all that it isn't merely a huge specimen of Allosaurus (Allosaurus maximus) and douse the faintly-flickering theory that it may be the same as Epanterias.

Despite lingering uncertainty, Oklahoma crowned Saurophaganax as their official state dinosaur in 2000, but, hopefully, this particular dinosaur adoption won't ends in tears. Pity Texas and their adopted "Pleurocoelus" that was renamed Paluxysaurus and adopted again... just before the Mesozoic Moirai twisted fate once more, sinking it as a synonym of Sauroposeidon.
(Greatest king of the lizard eaters)Etymology
The name Saurophaganax is derived from the Greek "sauros" (lizard), "phago" (eat) and "anax" (king or master). The species epithet, maximus, means "the greatest" or "the largest" in Latin.
Discovery
The remains of Saurophaganax were discovered at "Quarry 1" in the Morrison Formation, east of Kenton, Cimarron County, Oklahoma, USA, by workers from the University of Oklahoma during the earliest 1930s. The holotype (OMNH 01123) is a neural arch.
Estimations
Timeline:
Era: Mesozoic
Epoch: Late Jurassic
Stage: Kimmeridgian-Tithonian
Age range: 154-142 mya
Stats:
Est. max. length: 13 meters
Est. max. hip height: 4 meters
Est. max. weight: 4 tons
Diet: Carnivore
Family Tree:
Dinosauria
Saurischia
Theropoda
Tetanurae
Carnosauria
Allosauridae
Saurophaganax
maximus
References
• Chure D.J. (1995) "A reassessment of the gigantic theropod Saurophagus maximus from the Morrison Formation (Upper Jurassic) of Oklahoma, USA".
• Paul G.S. (2010) "The Princeton Field Guide to Dinosaurs".
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To cite this page:
Atkinson, L. "SAUROPHAGANAX :: from DinoChecker's dinosaur archive".
›. Web access: 20th Oct 2017.
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