Gigantosaurus

Name: Gigantosaurus ‭(‬giant lizard‭)‬.
Phonetic: Gy-gant-o-sore-us.
Named By: Harry Govier Seeley‭ ‬-‭ ‬1869.
Classification: Chordata,‭ ‬Reptilia,‭ ‬Dinosauria,‭ ‬Saurischia,‭ ‬Sauropodomorpha,‭ ‬Sauropoda.
Species: G.‭ ‬megalonyx.
Diet: Herbivore.
Size: Uncertain due to lack of remains.
Known locations: England,‭ ‬Cambrdgeshire,‭ ‬near Stretham‭ ‬-‭ ‬Kimmeridge Clay Formation‭?
Time period: Kimmeridgian of the Jurassic‭?
Fossil representation: ‭P‬artial remains including a cervical‭ (‬neck‭) ‬vertebra,‭ ‬a dorsal‭ (‬back‭) ‬vertebra,‭ ‬two caudal‭ (‬tail‭) ‬vertebrae,‭ ‬partial fibula and tibia‭ (‬lower hind leg bones‭)‬,‭ ‬an osteoderm and two casts of large claws.

       Gigantosaurus is a little known and currently dubious genus of sauropod dinosaur.‭ ‬The fossils that are assigned to the genus could come from a sauropod,‭ ‬but they were all found disarticulated and separately,‭ ‬raising the notion that they could be from more than one individual.‭ ‬The state of preservation also means that it would also be difficult to attribute further remains to the genus.‭ ‬Because of this other palaeontologists have considered Gigantosaurus to be a synonym of other genera,‭ ‬with Richard Lydekker suggesting Ornithopsis in‭ ‬1888,‭ ‬and Friedrich von Huene proposing Pelorosaurus in‭ ‬1909.‭ ‬Today,‭ ‬Gigantosaurus is usually considered to be a Nomen dubium,‭ ‬though the osteoderm is interesting in that if the osteoderm came from a sauropod-like dinosaur,‭ ‬then the remains might be those of a titanosaur or close relative of.‭ ‬Many titanosaurs,‭ ‬most famously Saltasaurus are known to have had osteoderm armour in their skin.
       In‭ ‬1908‭ ‬the German palaeontologist Eberhard Fraas named fossils of an African sauropod as Gigantosaurus.‭ ‬Fraas did this upon the grounds that he thought that Seeley had not provided a complete enough description as well as the English Gigantosaurus being considered as a synonym to other genera.‭ ‬Fraas was wrong to do this on both counts as under international conventions governing the naming of animals,‭ ‬you cannot use a name that has already been listed,‭ ‬including even if it is a synonym‭ ‬to something else.‭ ‬To do so would just sow the seeds for confusion and make it harder for future researchers to do their work.‭ ‬In‭ ‬1911‭ ‬the African fossils were renamed as a new genus by Richard Sternfeld as Tornieria.‭ ‬This was about the end of the Gigantosaurus/Tornieria connection,‭ ‬but the taxonomic history of Tornieria became quite convoluted afterwards and is worth reading in its own right‭ (‬details on the main Tornieria page‭)‬.
       Gigantosaurus should not be confused with the very similarly named Giganotosaurus,‭ ‬one of the largest predatory dinosaurs of all time.

Further reading
-‭ In‬dex to the Fossil Remains of Aves,‭ ‬Ornithosauria,‭ ‬and Reptilia from the Secondary System of Strata,‭ ‬arranged in the Woodwardian Museum of the University of Cambridge‭ ‬-‭ ‬H.‭ ‬G.‭ ‬Seleey‭ ‬-‭ ‬1870.
-‭ ‬Skizze zu einer Systematik und Stammesgeschichte der Dinosaurier‭ [‬Sketch of the systematics and origins of the dinosaurs‭] ‬-‭ ‬F.‭ ‬v.‭ ‬Huene‭ ‬-‭ ‬1909.
-‭ ‬Dinosaurs in marine strata:‭ ‬evidence from the British Jurassic,‭ ‬including a review of the allochthonous vertebrate assemblage from the marine Kimmeridge Clay Formation‭ (‬Upper Jurassic‭) ‬of Great Britain‭ ‬-‭ ‬D.‭ ‬M.‭ ‬Martill,‭ ‬D.‭ ‬Naish‭ & ‬S.‭ ‬Earland‭ ‬-‭ ‬2006.



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