Nanshiungosaurus (Nanshiung lizard)
Nanshiungosaurus (Nanshiung lizard)
Named By : Z. Dong - 1979
Diet : Herbivore / Possibly Omnivore
Size : Estimated 5 meters long
Type of Dinosaur : Large Theropod
Type Species : N. brevispinus (type)
Found in : China - Chijinbao Formation, Nanxiong Formation, Yuanpu Formation
When it Lived : Late Cretaceous, 84-71 million years ago
Nanshiungosaurus, which means “Nanxiong’s lizard”, is a genus that includes therizinosaurids. It lived in Asia during the Late Cretaceous period of South China. Dong Zhiming first described the type species Nanshiungosaurus Brevispinus in 1974. The only specimen that has preserved most of the dorsal and cervical vertebrae is the type species. An unproven second species, Nanshiungosaurus bohlini, was discovered in 1992 and documented in 1997. It’s also represented by vertebrae, but this species differs in geological time and lacks authentic characteristics, rendering its affinity to the genus questionable.
Therizinosaurid was large in size and weighed approximately 907 kg (2,000 lb). Nanshiungosaurus was a large-sized therizinosaurid with a pneumatized vertebral column. The posterior cervical vertebrae were unusually strong and slightly longer than the dorsals. The large torso was evident on the bulky pelvis. It had the same characteristics as other therizinosaurids: a broad torso, which was used for feeding, a keratinous mouth, and stocky feet that supported four weight-bearing toes.
Nanshiungosaurus has been classified as a therizinosaurian dinosaurian dinosaur. Nanshiungosaurus was also a therizinosaur, along with Segnosaurus and Therizinosaurus. Dong, the original author of the description, thought the remains belonged to a dwarf sauropod. However, the genus was renamed therizinosaur in the 1990s after it was discovered that the pelvic similarities were similar to Segnosaurus. Research on therizinosaurs proved difficult at first. At the time, only a few remains were available. These had features from several dinosaur lineages which led to their classification as prosauropod dinosaurs.
The Institute of Vertebrate Paleontology and Paleoanthropology led a geological expedition to the Nanxiong Basin in 1974. During this expedition, several fossilized remains of dinosaurs was discovered. A large, partial skeleton from the Late Cretaceous was discovered near Dapingcun in Guangdong Province’s Nanxiong Formation. The specimen was identified under the number IVPPV4731. It consisted of 12 cervical vertebrae (lacking the atlas), 10 dorsal vertebrae, 5 sacral, 5 (actually 6), and the first caudal verbrae. There was also a bulky, almost complete pelvis that only lacked the right ilium or ischium. The specimen was later described by Dong Zhiming, a Chinese paleontologist. It was used to create the new species Nanshiungosaurus Brevispinus. The generic name Nanshiungosaurus refers to Nanxiong’s source of origin and is derived form the Greek sauros (sauros), which means lizard. The specific name, brevispinus is derived form the Latin brevis (meaning short, spine, and respectively) to refer to the short vertebral spines. Dong misunderstood the specimen as a dwarf titanosaurine sauropod. It was characterized by a shorter neck but a thicker neck than other sauropods that were based on their pelvis structure.
Dong Zhiming, You Hailu and a second species were named and described in 1997. They used a 1992 Mazongshan skeleton as a basis. It has 11 cervical and 5 dorsal verbrae, along with some ribs. It is classified as IVPP V11116, and it comes from the Early Cretaceous Upper Xinminbao Group. They also called the Nanshiungosauridae “both species” and renamed it Nanshiungosauridae. Dong and Yu did not present any evidence or arguments supporting Nanshiungosaurus’ assignment of the species. Lindsay Zanno, a North American paleontologist, considered this referral highly unlikely in 2010. bohlini is dated back to the Barremian–Aptian ages. In view of the lack of synapomorphies she thought that the second species might not be related to Nanshiungosaurus, and warranted its own genus. She also corrected the number of sacral vertebrae from 5-6 and noted that the holotype pelvis was damaged from its collection. The remains of “N” were also found. Bohlini were also found in the Zhonggou Formation’s lower red beds, which is a totally different geological setting. This dubious specimen cannot be considered relatable to Nanshiungosaurus, as it is not consistent with the general consensus.