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SAURONIOPS

a meat-eating carcharodontosaurid theropod dinosaur from the Late Cretaceous of Morocco.
Pronunciation: sor-on-ee-ops
Meaning: The Eye of Sauron
Author/s: Cau et al. (2012) (2012)
Synonyms: None known
First Discovery: Taouz, Morocco
Chart Position: 647

Sauroniops pachytholus

Sauroniops pachytholus is based on a partial, extra thick skull roof, purchased from a Moroccan fossil dealer and donated to the MPM by a mystery donor, which was mentioned in Cau and colleague's "Evidence of a new carcharodontosaurid from the Upper Cretaceous of Morocco" in 2012. At the time they thought it "inappropriate" to erect a new taxon, partly because it was found by locals and its exact horizon and locality is uncertain, and partly because they weren't quite sure which class of dinosaur it belonged to. They didn't think it inappropriate for long.

Initially, the authors couldn't decide if it was an abelisaurid with carcharodontosaurid features or a carcharodontosaurid with abelisaurid features but they eventually plumped for the latter, noting particular similarities to Eocarcharia, and a mere two months later Sauroniops pachytholus — from the same area as, of similar proportions to, but apparently not a representative of, Carcharadontosaurus — was coined.

As is often the case with thick-skulled critters, some experts think Sauroniops was a "head banger", butting noggins with rivals for mating rights just like Musk Oxen and Bighorn Sheep. We're not sure why these critters would bang heads when they could just bite each others snouts off, and suspect instead that the most spectacular display — the biggest and gnarliest skull roof, perhaps brightly colored or maybe even plumed — attracted the hottest ladies. Hey, there's no accounting for taste!
(Thick-domed eye of Sauron)Etymology
Sauroniops is derived from "Sauron" and the Greek "-ops" (eye). Sauron is the big, nasty glowing eye from J.R.R. Tolkien's Lord of the Rings. "He does not allow his name to be written or spoken", according to Aragorn, but Andrea Cau, Fabio M. Dalla Vecchia and Matteo Fabbri didn't take a blind bit of notice! The Greek "-ops" means "face". The species epithet, pachytholus, is derived from the Greek "pakhys" (thick) and "tholos" (dome), referring to its domed skull.
Discovery
The remains of Sauroniops were discovered in the “Kem−Kem beds”, Southeast of Taouz, Errachidia Province, Meknès-Tafilalet Region (one of the sixteen regions of Morocco), north-central Morocco. The holotype (MPM 2594) is a thickened skull roof.
Estimations
Timeline:
Era: Mesozoic
Epoch: Late Cretaceous
Stage: Cenomanian
Age range: 99-94 mya
Stats:
Est. max. length: 12 meters
Est. max. hip height: 3.5 meters
Est. max. weight: 6 tons
Diet: Carnivore
References
• Andrea Cau, Fabio Marco Dalla Vecchia, and Matteo Fabbri (2012) "Evidence of a new carcharodontosaurid from the Upper Cretaceous of Morocco".
• Andrea Cau, Fabio Marco Dalla Vecchia, and Matteo Fabbri (2012) "A thick-skulled theropod (Dinosauria, Saurischia) from the Upper Cretaceous of Morocco with implications for carcharodontosaurid cranial evolution".
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To cite this page:
Atkinson, L. "SAURONIOPS :: from DinoChecker's dinosaur archive".
›. Web access: 17th Nov 2017.
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