Named By: Friedrich von Huene - 1910.
Classification: Chordata, Reptilia, Dinosauriformes.
Species: S. elginensis (type).
Size: Estimated to be about 80-100 centimetres long.
Known locations: Scotland - Lossiemouth Sandstone Formation.
Time period: Carnian of the Triassic.
Fossil representation: Partial post cranial skeleton.
has had a murky taxonomic history with some researchers crediting it
with being an early theropod dinosaur, while others insist that it
was an advanced archosaur similar to Marasuchus.
palaeontologists agree that Saltopus is most
probably a dinosauriform,
more advanced than an archosaur, but not quite a dinosaur. One
argument to support this is that the sacrum (hip) only has two
vertebrae. Some primitive dinosaurs such as herrasaurid theropods may
have three sacral vertebrae, while most more advanced dinosaurs have
between four and five sacral vertebrae, depending upon type,
development, and possible specialisation.
Though only known from partial remains, we know that Saltopus would have been a very small bipedal animal with at least half of its total body length taken up by the tail. Saltopus still had five fingers, though the fourth and fifth fingers were already reduced in size. Given that most dinosauriformes of this type seem to have been meat eaters, it has been presumed that Saltopus would have also been a meat eater, though no stomach contents or skull and teeth fossils exist to confirm this. If Saltopus were a predator, it would have most probably hunted for small animals, such as lizards and larger invertebrates such as beetles and scorpions.
- Ein primitiver Dinosaurier aus der mittleren Trias von Elgin [A primitive dinosaur from the Middle Trias of Elgin]. - Geologie und Paläontologie Abhandlungen (n.s.) 8(6):317-322. - Friedrich von Huene - 1910.
- Saltopus, a dinosauriform from the Upper Triassic of Scotland. - Earth and Environmental Science Transactions of the Royal Society of Edinburgh, Volume 101, Special Issue 3-4, pp 285 - 299. - Michael J. Benton & Alick D. Walker - 2011.