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SHUNOSAURUS

a herbivorous eusauropod dinosaur from the Middle Jurassic of China.
Pronunciation: SHOO-no-SOR-us
Meaning: Sichuan lizard
Author/s: Dong, Zhou and Zhang (1983)
Synonyms: None known
First Discovery: Sichuan, China
Chart Position: 246

Shunosaurus lii

As far as true sauropods go, Shunosaurus was relatively small, which could be brushed off as island dwarfism if it actually lived on an island. But it didn't. It lived alongside the larger, huge-toothed Datousaurus and the long-necked, treetop-hogging Omeisaurus near Dashanpu, so it's more than likely mother nature simply ushered Shunosaurus into a vacant eco-niche where a smaller size, shorter neck, and many cylindrical but chisel-tipped teeth could take advantage of lower-lying vegetation.

Its modest size all but guaranteed unwanted attention from the local apex predator - it's the nature of the beast to single out an easy target. But once again mother nature came to the rescue with a feature not often seen in herbivores of the non-ankylosaurid variety, and adorned its tail with a huge club of fused bone, plus a couple of spikes for good measure.

The only other sauropod with such a feature is Spinophorosaurus, though its tail was more spikey and less clubby, and such weapons would do much to ensure they weren't torn limb from limb by hungry hunters during life. However, no weapon can ward-off the effects of Old Father Time, so its quite a thing that Shunosaurus and Spinophorosaurus are the most completely known Middle Jurassic sauropods, and while currently assigned to two different families they probably deserve their own group within Eusauropoda, united by the presence of their weaponised tails.
(Li's Sichuan lizard)Etymology
Shunosaurus is derived from "Shu", an old name for the Sichuan region of China where the original specimens were found, and the Greek "sauros" (lizard).
The species epithet, lii, honors hydrologist Li Bing, the magistrate who governed the Qin State of what is now Sichuan Province between 256-251 BC. He was particularly celebrated for his flood control measures along the Minjiang River which included the construction of the famed Dujiang irrigation system.
Discovery
The fossils of Shunosaurus were discovered at a road bank by a group of students who were practising their paleontological excavation technique in the Lower Shaximiao (Xiashaximiao) Formation near Dashanpu, Zigong, Sichuan Province, China, in 1977. The holotype (IVPP V.9065) is a partial skeleton though 94% of the critter is now known thanks to twenty-odd complete or near-complete skeletons and skulls, including remains of juveniles.
Estimations
Timeline:
Era: Mesozoic
Epoch: Middle Jurassic
Stage: Bathonian-Callovian
Age range: 168-161 mya
Stats:
Est. max. length: 11 meters
Est. max. hip height: 4 meters
Est. max. weight: 7 tons
Diet: Herbivore
Second species?
"Shunosaurus ziliujingensis" is based on an entry in a Zigong museum guide for a specimen which is smaller and older than Shunosaurus lii (possibly from Sichuan's Lower Jurassic Ziliujing Formation, hence the specific name), and has longer teeth with distinctly serrated edges. This specimen has yet to be formally described.
References
• Dong Z, Zhou S, Zhang Y (1983) "Dinosaurs from the Jurassic of Sichuan". Palaeontologica Sinica 162 C(23): 1-136.
• Paul GS (2010) "The Princeton Field Guide to Dinosaurs". Princeton University Press.
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To cite this page:
Atkinson, L. "SHUNOSAURUS :: from DinoChecker's dinosaur archive".
›. Web access: 21st Sep 2017.
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