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Thursday, 27th of April, 2017
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a herbivorous brachiosaurid sauropod dinosaur from the Early Cretaceous of North America.
Pronunciation: so-NOR-a-SOR-us
Meaning: Sonora Desert lizard
Author/s: Ratkevich (1998)
Synonyms: None known
First Discovery: Arizona, USA
Chart Position: 352

Sonorasaurus thompsoni

Preliminary classification of Sonorasaurus was based on fragmentary, unprepared skeletal elements and opinions were wild and varied. Ratkovich thought it was a sauropod, E.H. Colbert suggested an affinity with hadrosaurs in 1995 for no apparent reason, and later the same year D.W. Thayer thought it was a therizinosaur based on a huge hand claw... that turned out to be a chevron. After later research it was back to being a sauropod, the first sauropod known from the Middle Cretaceous of North America no less, and probably a brachiosaurid though a fairly unspectacular one with an estimated length of 15 meters, which is about half the size of Brachiosaurus.

Sonorasaurus is poorly preserved and only 30% complete despite 100 tons of muck being shifted from its dig site over five years, and although it's been known for over a decade as of 2008 it's still more famous for an attempt to gatecrash Arizona's "official state dinosaur" party. At the request of a nine-year-old child, Senator John Huppenthal introduced a bill that proposed Dilophosaurus be installed as Arizona's official dinosaur. However, Southern Arizona's legislators, peeved that Dilophosaurus was not unique to Arizona and the fossils that were found there had been carted off to California, wanted Sonorasaurus. The Senator pulled out his box of tricks and almost succeeded in manipulating a diplomatic solution that would see both dinosaurs represent Arizona. Unfortunately, when the proposal was taken to the U.S. house of representatives a vote was whip-blocked, and Arizona were left with no state dinosaur at all.
(Richard Thomson's Sonora Lizard)Etymology
Sonorasaurus is derived from the Hispanacized Opata Indian word "Sonora" (referring to the Sonora river, but here expanded to refer to the Sonoran Desert area, where it was discovered), and the Greek "sauros" (lizard). Since it was found in a part of the Sonoran Desert called Chihuahua Ronald Ratkevich originally considered naming it "Chihuahuasaurus" but couldn't stand the thought of the inevitable, cheesey tabloid "Chihuahua" gags so decided against it. We'll bet Paris Hilton was, like, soooo disappointed. The species epithet, thompsoni (TOMP-son-ie), is named for geology student Richard Thompson.
The holotype of Sonorasaurus (ASDM 500) was discovered in the Turney Ranch Formation (Bisbee Group), in the southwestern foothills of the Whetstone Mountains, Cochise County, southern Arizona, by Richard Thompson in 1994. Only 30% of the beast was discovered, with gouge marks on its poorly preserved bones and an Acrocanthosaurus tooth found mingled with the remains perhaps explaining where the missing bits ended up! Associated with the remains were "a number of irregularly rounded, polished quartzite and chert cobbles" that were tenatively identified as gastroliths.
Era: Mesozoic
Epoch: Early Cretaceous
Stage: Albian
Age range: 105-99.5 mya
Vital Stats:
Est. max. length: 15 meters
Est. max. hip height: ?
Est. max. weight: 16 tons
Diet: Herbivore
• D.W. Thayer and R. Ratkevich (1995) "In progress dinosaur excavation in the mid-cretaceous Turney Ranch Formation, southeastern Arizona" in "Proceedings of the Fossils of Arizona Symposium". /uk.
• R. Ratkevich (1997) "Sonorasaurus - Dinosaur of the Desert".
• R. Ratkevich (1998) "New Cretaceous brachiosaurid dinosaur, Sonorasaurus thompsoni gen et sp. nov, from Arizona".
• Tom McClory (2010) "Understanding the Arizona Constitution (Dinosaur wars in the Arizona legislature)".
• MD D’Emic, BZ Foreman and NA Jud (2016) "Anatomy, systematics, paleoenvironment, growth, and age of the sauropod dinosaur Sonorasaurus thompsoni from the Cretaceous of Arizona, USA". Journal of Paleontology 90(01): 102-132. DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1017/jpa.2015.67
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To cite this page:
Atkinson, L. "SONORASAURUS :: from DinoChecker's dinosaur archive".
›. Web access: 27th Apr 2017.