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Klamelisaurus gobiensis skeletal

Klamelisaurus gobiensis

Etymology: "Kelameilishan mountains lizard from the Gobi desert"

Time horizon: Middle Jurassic, Bathonian-Callovian epochs (~166 mya)

Length: 16.7m (~55 ft.)

Probable mass: 10 tons

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*Skull now revised to bring it closer in proportions to the Tokyo museum sculpt* (the actual skull was not found with the holotype, and purported skull material has never been formally described.)

The most complete non-mamenchisaur high browser from Jurassic China, Klamelisaurus gobiensis. A basal cousin of the earliest brachiosaurs, this midsized giant converged on mamenchisaurs in overall proportions. However the far more derived hips and shoulder blades are clearly those of a titanosauriform, and are an indicator of things to come.

Klamelisaurus had the extremely long neck and high vertebra count found in both mamenchisaurids and euhelopodids, indicating that this design evolved separately at least three times, all three being endemic to China. There must have been something about the environment which encouraged these common proportions, and made most other sauropod designs extremely rare. The odd thing about this animal is that it's not found anywhere near most mamenchisaurids, which hail from Sichuan province in the south - it's from China's far western regions, in the west end of the Gobi desert. Most of the Gobi is known purely for yielding Late Cretaceous dinosaurs (Iren Dabasu, Djadochta and Nemegt formations), so a Jurassic species from the Gobi is truly a rare prize. It may also indicate that not all of China's Jurassic forests were dominated by the mamenchisaur clan.

When exactly the klamelisaurids split from the brachiosaurids is unknown, but clues to their common origins may be found in a late-clinging descendant of those halcyon days of proto-titanosauriforms, the so-called "Lavocatitan":…

What is known is that both Klamelisaurus and the most basal brachiosaurids (i.e. Atlasaurus) still had bifid neural spines in the lower neck and the first few dorsal vertebrae, a primitive trait retained from non-titanosauriform ancestors, which disappeared in later brachiosaurs, laurasiforms, and other basal titanosauriforms, only to be re-evolved in huanghetitanids, euhelopodids, and acrofornicans such as Phuwiangosaurus.

A herd of juvenile specimens originally named Bellusaurus sui have since become generally accepted as juveniles of Klamelisaurus, based on ontogeny and stratigraphic age. This is one of the few cases of lumping I find credible anatomically, and it's some of the best evidence that sauropods lived in age-specific herds, and may have been specialized for eating different types of plants at different points in their lives. The type specimen of Klamelisaurus appears to be mature based on the fusion of the coracoid with the scapula. Its first two dorsals already exhibit fusion, which is very unusual in this part of a sauropod, and a number of the caudals appear to exhibit some pathologies in the neural spines similar to what is seen in several individuals of various "Mamenchisaurus" species. Apparently these animals took out a lot of anger on each other's tails. :XD:

Since its discovery in 1993, little other research has been done on Klamelisaurus. However it is known that its family is not monospecific. The more obscure Daanosaurus zhangi and its basal cousin Abrosaurus dongpoi ( = gigantorhinus) are also likely klamelisaurs. Abrosaurus is known from good skull material, although the skull is somewhat crushed, and as usual with these things, has often been restored incorrectly to look like something far more primitive (or even prosauropod-like) than what it really is.

This skeletal has been credited as inspiration by:…


Zhao Xijing (1993) "A new Mid-Jurassic sauropod (Klamelisaurus gobiensis gen. et sp. nov.) from Xinjiang, China" Vertebrata PalAsiatica Volume 31, No. 2 April, 1993 pp. 132-138

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Myony's avatar
Very good skeletal. Is there any particular reason why you're using "Klamelisaurus" as an informal nomen conservandum here, by the way?
Paleo-King's avatar
Because we're not 100% percent sure it was the same genus as Bellusaurus, due to the vast ontogeny gap. But when you do the first skeletal... you can use some artistic license.

We also don't wipe out T. rex in favor of Manospondylus gigas. So all rules have their tasty exceptions. I'm not a fanatic stickler for ICZN conventions, especially when formal taxonomy itself can often be messy and self-contradictory, and a pain to sort out through the formal channels (consider the Pelorosaurus/Ornithopsis pile).
Atlantis536's avatar
I've never heard of the clade "Acrofornica" before. Do you have any sources or at least a clade definition?
Paleo-King's avatar
Something that Gunnar and I worked out. No it's not a formally described clade but we found that some titanosauriforms intermediate between euhelopodids and true titanosaurs cluster together. We hope to publish a definition in the future, with data matrices.
Jeda45's avatar
Are you suggesting that all Bellusaurus sui fossils are juveniles of Klamelisaurus gobiensis?
Apart from the mention of potential synonymy of Bellusaurus and Klamelisaurus by Paul in the Princeton Field Guide to Dinosaurs, I've not seen defense of their congeneric status in the literature. What's your basis for saying this is the "consensus of the entire field"?
Paleo-King's avatar
Conversations with Chinese paleontologists. That's basically the "field" as far as Bellusaurus is concerned. And Paul is not the only American author to agree with them.
Paleo-King's avatar
Not just me. It's pretty much the consensus of the entire field. All Bellusaurus sui specimens are juveniles of something, they have unfused sutures all over their skeleton. And Klamelisaurus so far appears to be the best candidate for the adult animal. Keep in mind I don't normally lump animals based on apparent ontogeny, there are many cases of mistaken ID with that, but in this case it's really hard to avoid, the morphology looks very similar, Bellusaurus is obviously juvenile, and the time horizons for both animals appear to match too.
Jeda45's avatar
Bellusaurus sui was named years before Klamelisaurus gobiensis, so if they are synonymous, Bellusaurus sui would have priority
Paleo-King's avatar
Well that's where we run into the Manospondylus gigas/Dynamosaurus imperiosus problem... at the end of the day T. rex wasn't named first but the name just stuck... I think Klamelisaurus will likewise stick. :XD
Jeda45's avatar
But Manospondylus gigas is likely a nomen oblitum, as it has not been used validly since 1900 (ICZN article 23.9) and Dynamosaurus imperiosus is a junior synonym of Tyrannosaurus rex, as both were published simultaneously but T. rex was chosen to have priority by the first reviser (ICZN article 24.2).

By contrast, Bellusaurus sui is widely used in the literature and thus there is absolutely no reason for Klamelisaurus gobiensis to take precedence over it.
Paleo-King's avatar
No no no!!! IZCN petition! Dig Toroceratops back up! Call up Greg Paul! :D

Just kidding. I'd never do that. Honestly I prefer the name Klamelisaurus just for the sound. Generally though I don't know of too many cases where the juvenile name overrules the adult name... even if it was used earlier.
Jeda45's avatar
While it's no longer really applicable, the type specimen of Apatosaurus was a juvenile while that of Brontosaurus was an adult, it was the recognition that Apatosaurus and Brontosaurus were distinguished from each other based largely on ontogenetically variable differences that led to their century synonymy.

With the exception of a small number of old taxa with fragmentary type material, and a couple of cases of ambiguous priority (e.g. Shenzhouraptor/Jeholornis and Epidendrosaurus/Scansoriopteryx), I can't think of a single case of a junior synonym being widely used.
TitanoRex's avatar
Its nice seeing work gone on those many obscurer sauropods of Asia
pilsator's avatar
Very nice, didn't know how complete this otherwise overly mysterious eusauropod is.

But what, if anything, are acrofornicans? Never heard of that taxon.
Paleo-King's avatar
If you like, you can call them Phuwiangosauridae. :XD:

Basically acrofornia ("tall arches") are the transitional group that sits somewhere between euhelopodids and true titanosaurs on the macronarian family tree. Their dorsal vertebrae tend to have very tall neural arches, modest-length diapophyses, and almost no neural spine. The caudals are usually more or less amphiplatyan, which sets them apart from true euhelopodids like Daxiatitan. Some of them have specialized elongated skulls and teeth that roughly converge on nemegtosaurids.

The group contains Phuwiangosaurus, Baotianmansaurus, Tangvayosaurus, "Titanosaurus falloti", and possibly Huabeisaurus, Sonidosaurus, Janenschia and "Pelorosaurus" becklesii. It's never been given the name Acrofornica in print, but the group does seem to be monophyletic based on the unique morphology of the vertebrae, the robust humeri (with very tightly crammed anterior distal condyles) and femora, and the fact that like euhelopodids, they have bifid neural spines in the rear cervicals and first few dorsals. Once you get to the rear dorsals, they already start to show hints of the rounded centrum and tall cruciform neural arch configuration seen in Andesaurus and Argentinosaurus, rather than the squat vertebrae and flattened centra of Euhelopus.
DinoBirdMan's avatar
That's really awesome!:)
Kazuma27's avatar
The skull looks quite camarasaur-ish...
Paleo-King's avatar
It's actually a mix of basal brachiosaur, euhelopodid, and "cetiosaur"-grade eusauropod, with a bit of Abrosaurus thrown in to balance it all out. The rear portion of the skull is very different form a camarasaur. But superficially, most basal titanosauriforms as well as earlier "cetiosaur" creatures look very roughly like a camarasaur.

It actually looks a good bit less camarasaur-like than the speculative skull in the Tokyo cast of the animal.
Carcharodontotitan's avatar
It looks like a combination of a brachiosaurid and a mamenchisaurid.
Paleo-King's avatar
Good observation, it's basically a primitive stem-brachisoaur trying very hard to be a mamenchisaurid :D

There are many cases of non-mamenchisaurid sauropods in China basically copying the mamenchisaurid body plan. Everything from this guy to Euhelopus and Erketu, to even some nemegtosaurs!
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