Monday, 20 May 2013

Z is for Zupaysaurus

After 26 long weeks, we are now at the final dinosaur from our dinosaurian alphabet! This week, we bring you 'Z is for Zupaysaurus', a theropod from Argentina.

Zupaysaurus lived during the Late Triassic period, about 215 million years ago in northern Argentina. The name comes from the local Quechua word 'zupay' meaning devil. It was a medium-sized bipedal theropod, between 3 and 4 m in length, and weighed about 200 kg. It is known from one definitive specimen, which includes a nearly complete skull, vertebrae, and incomplete arms and legs [1]. In the original description, it was thought to have two parallel cranial crests, like those seen in Dilophosaurus. However, more recent analysis has suggested that these "crests" were simply bones that had been pushed up during deformation of the skull [2]
Artists impression of Zupaysaurus by FunkMonk
Like most theropods, Zupaysaurus was a carnivore. Most analyses suggest that it was a coelophysoid dinosaur, being closely related to the Antarctic theropod Cryolophosaurus, and was the first coelophysoid to be found in South America. It was found in the Los Colorados Formation of Argentina, which is thought to have been a floodplain. This formation is home to many sauropodomorph dinosaurs, like Riojasaurus, and many other tetrapods such as therapsids, pseudosuchians, and other archosaurs. In fact, it is one of the earliest known animal fossil assemblages that was dominated by dinosaurs!

And that is it for our dinosaurian alphabet! I hope everyone has enjoyed it. I'm looking for ideas of what to do for the blog in the future, so if anyone has anything they'd like to learn about, please let me know!

1. Arcucci, A. B., and Coria, R. A. 2003. A new Triassic carnivorous dinosaur from Argentina. Ameghiniana 40: 217-228. 
2. Ezcurra, M. C., and Novas, F. E. 2007. Phylogenetic relationships of the Triassic theropod Zupaysaurus rougieri from NW Argentina. Historical Biology 19: 35-72.

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