Gasparinisaura (Gasparini’s lizard)
Gasparinisaura (Gasparini's lizard)
Named By : Coria & Salgado – 1996
Diet : Herbivore
Size : Estimated 0.8 – 1.7 meters long
Type of Dinosaur : Euornithopod
Type Species : G. cincosaltensis (type)
Found in : Argentina
When it Lived : Late Cretaceous, 86-71 million years ago
Gasparinisaura, which means “Gasparini’s lizard”, is a genus herbivorous ornithopod dinosaur that dates back to the Late Cretaceous.
In 1992, the first fossils of Gasparinisaura was discovered in Argentina near Cinco Saltos in Rio Negro Province. Rodolfo Salgado and Leonardo Coria named the type species Gasparinisaura. The generic name honors Argentine palaeontologist Zulma Brandoni de Gasparini. Cinco Saltos is the specific name.
The holotype, MUCPv208, was found in a layer from the Anacleto Formation. It is approximately 83 million years old and dates back to the early Campanian. It is a partial skull and skeleton, without much of the vertebral columns. Paratype MUCPv-212, a tail with lower hindlimb components, is the paratype. Three additional specimens were also described in 1997: MUCPv 213 (a partial skeleton with skull); MCSPv 111 (a postcranial skeleton); and MCSPv 112, a skull that has hindlimbs, and pelvis. These three specimens are juvenile individuals. In 2008, all three juvenile specimens had gastroliths.
Gasparinisaura, a small bipedal herbivore, was named. Gregory S. Paul, in 2010, estimated that the length was 1.7m and the weight at 13 kilogrammes.
Gasparinisaura was a round-headed, moderately elongated head. The eye sockets were large and positioned in a high place. Pendant shaped, the back of the head was quite long. The front branch of the jugal was narrow and wedged between maxilla, lacrimal. The back was broad and high. The quadratojugal was characterized by a long ascending process that touched the squamosal. The jaw joints were very low. Each upper and lower jaw contained twelve maxillary or dental teeth. The forelimbs had a light build. The pubis was thin and the ilium was small. The hindlimbs were strong and long, with a shorter thighbone than the upper leg and a longer lower leg. The foot was very long, and the first metatarsal was reduced in size to a splint. This was a derived trait. The tail had triangular triangular chevrons with a low, plate-like appearance that extended towards the back. This is a unique feature in the Euornithopoda.
Clusters of up-to hundred-forty round and polished stones were found in the stomachs of gastroliths. The average stone size was eight millimetres. They accounted for 0.3% of the total body weight and were large enough to be used as a gastric machine. This function is sometimes denied by sauropod gastroliths due to their low relative mass (an order of magnitude lower).