Royal Society Publishing

The earliest known sauropod dinosaur and the first steps towards sauropod locomotion

Adam M. Yates, James W. Kitching


A partial dinosaur skeleton from the Upper Triassic (Norian) sediments of South Africa is described and named Antetonitrus ingenipes. It provides the first informative look at a basal sauropod that was beginning to show adaptations towards graviportal quadrupedalism such as an elongated forelimb, a modified femoral architecture, a shortened metatarsus and a changed distribution of weight across the foot. These adaptations allowed the clade to produce the largest–ever terrestrial animals. However, A. ingenipes lacked specializations of the hand found in more derived sauropods that indicate it retained the ability to grasp. Antetonitrus is older than the recently described Isanosaurus from Thailand and is the oldest known definitive sauropod.

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