a herbivorous somphospondyl sauropod dinosaur from the Early Cretaceous of North America.
Since the end of the nineteenth century, the Trinity Group of Texas and Oklahoma has churned out fossils of sauropod dinosaurs. It started with Astrodon, and two species of Pleurocoelus—which turned out to be Astrodon.
And those were followed by the earth-shaking Sauroposeidon, and Peter Rose's Paluxysaurus which was long mixed up, at least partially, with Pleurocoelus, but which turned out to be Sauroposeidon.
In 2012, d'Emic performed some exuberant housekeeping and declared that all of the critters mentioned above were either undiagnostic, dubious, or worthless to science. But he did salvage something; a partial skeleton that Bilelo reported in 1969 and which Wann Langston Jr. tagged "Pleurocoelus sp." in 1974, and this became Astrophocaudia slaughteri — Robert Slaughter's non-twisting tail. Hey, stop giggling!
The name-prompting tail vertebrae of Astrophocaudia are distinct in sporting a "hyposphene–hypantrum system" — a "slot and notch" mechanism where a projection on the rear of one vertebra (the hyposphene) "slots" into a recess (a hypantrum) on the vertebra behind it, forming a kind of secondary joint for adding rigidity and strength to the tail.
(Slaughter's non-twisting tail)Etymology
is derived from the Greek "A-" (non), "strophe" (twisting or turning) and "cauda" (tail), referring to the tail stiffening joints as described above. When viewed from the rear they resemble a star (astron; Greek), and so the name is also an homage to Astrodon
, the first Early Cretaceous sauropod known from North America.
The species epithet
, honors Texas paleontologist Dr. Robert H. Slaughter, who excavated the specimen in the 1960s.
The remains of Astrophocaudia
were discovered in the upper middle unit of the Paluxy Formation (Trinity Group) at Walnut Creek, southeast of Decatur, Wise County, Texas, USA, in an area that has also yielded the fish Lepidotes (some
scales of which were found in contact with the bones of
), a theropod claw (SMU 62723) and squamosal (SMU 61741), and the turtle Naomichelys. The location was erroneously listed (Bilelo, 1969) as hailing from a City called "Wall" which is actually several hundred kilometres from its discovery site.
(SMU 61732 and SMU 203/73655) is a partial skeleton including a tooth, two neck vertebrae, fragments of back vertebrae, 24 tail vertebrae, approximately 20 fragmentary ribs, two chevrons, and a piece of shoulder blade.
• M.D. D’Emic (2012) "Revision of the sauropod dinosaurs of the Lower Cretaceous Trinity Group, southern USA, with the description of a new genus".
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›. Web access: 27th Apr 2017.