Discovery

The first bones of Barapasaurus ("Big legged lizard"1) were recovered in India in 1960. However, it was not until 1975 that this recovery was made the type specimen, and the official description published by Jain, Kutty, Roy-Chowdhury and Chatterjee of Calcutta.

Since then, there have been a furthur five skeletons recovered from the Godavari Valley in southern India. However, none of these included the skull or feet. A few lone teeth are known but not sufficient to make judgements on diet.

Description

Baurapaurus was a sauropod from the Early Jurassic period - more precisely the Toarcian, 189.6 to 176.5 million years ago. Despite it's early place in dinosaur history, it reached a length of about 18 metres, and weighed about 48 tonnes. It's height to the hip was approximately 5.5m. Like all sauropods, Barapasaurus was a herbivore. However, no skull has yet been recovered and so its exact diet has not been determined. The remainder of the skeleton, save the feet, is known, so it is theoretically the best-known of the early Jurassic sauropods. Unfortunately, little work has yet been published regarding these discoveries.

Barapasaurus is curious because it is the earliest known sauropod. This is evident in the unspecialised nature of its form. Later sauropods like Brachiosaurus developed their own ecological niche, both within saurischia and also to distinguish that sub-order from other groups of dinosaur. However, Barapasaurus was something of an "all-purpose" dinosaur. For example, later sauropods developed hollow vertebrae, as a weight-saving measure. Barapasaurus' vertebrae, on the other hand, were almost solid, with only the earliest hints of hollowing.

Barapasaurus is also important because, although its remains are found in India, it is very similar to other samples found in East Africa. From this we can conclude that during the early Jurassic period, these two land masses were still connected or at least only recently divorced.

Classification

  • Order - Saurischia
  • Sub-order - Sauropodomorpha
  • Family - Sauropoda
  • Sub-family - Vulcanodontidae
Species info Barapasaurus is included in Vulcanodontidae rather than Cetiosauridae, the other sub-family in Sauropoda. This is not confirmed currently since insufficient work has been done on the skeletons. The description is justified by the narrow sacrum, characteristic of Vulcanodontids.

Currently the only known species is the original B. tagorsi.


1: CtF suggests that it may just be named after Parappa the Rapper.

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