Tuesday, March 2, 2021

[Paleontology • 2021] Ninjatitan zapatai • The Earliest Known Titanosaur Sauropod Dinosaur

Ninjatitan zapatai 
Gallina, Canale & Carballido, 2021
Illustration: Jorge Gonzalez facebook.com/PaleoartbyJorgeGonzalez 

The titanosaur sauropod record of Patagonia, mainly recovered from Upper Cretaceous strata, is probably the richest worldwide. Here we present a new sauropod dinosaur, Ninjatitan zapatai gen. et sp. nov., from the Lower Cretaceous Bajada Colorada Formation (Berriasian–Valanginian) of north Patagonia (Neuquén Province, Argentina), from which postcranial remains are preserved. The anatomical analysis and comparisons performed in this specimen evidence strong affinity with titanosaur sauropods. This assumption is corroborated with the inclusion of the new taxon in an updated phylogenetic data matrix. The cladistic analyses indicate that Ninjatitan could be considered the earliest known titanosaur sauropod. The combination of features such as the presence of procoelous anterior caudal centra, the pneumatized neural arch of anterior caudal vertebrae, and the posterodorsal border of the scapular acromion near the glenoid level supports its titanosaur affinities. The presence of a basal titanosaurian sauropod in the lowermost Cretaceous of Patagonia supports the hypothesis that the group was established in the Southern Hemisphere and reinforces the idea of a Gondwanan origin for Titanosauria. The Bajada Colorada sauropod fauna represents one of the most diverse and unique associations from the lowermost Cretaceous worldwide recorded.

Keywords: Sauropoda, Titanosauria, Lower Cretaceous, Patagonia

Pablo Ariel Gallina, Juan Ignacio Canale and José Luis Carballido. 2021. The Earliest Known Titanosaur Sauropod Dinosaur. Ameghiniana. 58(1); 35–51. DOI: 10.5710/AMGH.20.08.2020.3376

The earliest titanosaur in the world was discovered in Patagonia
Paleontologists present in society Ninjatitan zapatai, a new titanosaur from Patagonia that passes into the hall of fame among these colossi that walked on Earth for being the oldest of its group. This animal, about 20 meters in length, lived 140 million years ago, which demonstrates that these gigantic dinosaurs were originated at the beginning of the Cretaceous period.