Temporal range: Late Jurassic
Bonaparte & Mateus, 1999
Bonaparte & Mateus, 1999
Dinheirosaurus (meaning "Porto Dinheiro lizard") is a genus of diplodocid sauropod dinosaur. Its remains were found in the upper section (Kimmeridgian) of the Late Jurassic strata of the Camadas de Alcobaça Formation located in central-western Portugal at Porto Dinheiro, Lourinhã. The fossils were described in 1999 by Bonaparte and Mateus, after excavations that lasted from 1987, the year of its discovery, to 1992.
The material found was at first referred to the previously described and coeval genus Lourinhasaurus due to perceived similarities. Later analysis revealed the fossil to be a different kind of sauropod and was thus described as Dinheirosaurus. The two genera were for some time still regarded as possible synonyms but further interpretation of both finds left no doubt of their independent status.
The type species is D. lourinhanensis, named for the town of Lourinhã.
The fossil remains consist of a partial skeleton (the holotype, ML 414) of which the well-preserved articulated dorsal vertebrae are notable. The material also includes 12 dorsal ribs and fragmented limb bones. Dinheirosaurus lourinhanensis is characterized by its Diplodocus-like vertebrae with bifurcated neural spines that have different proportions when compared to Diplodocus. Also present is an accessory interverterbral articulation provided by structures derived from the hyposphene.
These characteristics may indicate that D. lourinhanensis is derived from a more primitive diplodocid than Diplodocus, having evolved in the isolation of islands, as was the case with the Iberian Peninsula at the time, separated from the North American and European mainland. Dinheirosaurus is a sister taxon for Supersaurus. The following cladogram is based on the phylogenetic analysis conducted by Whitlock in 2011, showing the relationships of Dinheirosaurus among the other genera assigned to the taxon Diplodocidae:
- Mannion, P. D., Upchurch P., Mateus O., Barnes R. N., & Jones M. E. H. (2012). New information on the anatomy and systematic position of Dinheirosaurus lourinhanensis (Sauropoda: Diplodocoidea) from the Late Jurassic of Portugal, with a review of European diplodocoids. Journal of Systematic Palaeontology. 10(3), 521–551.
- Whitlock, J.A. (2011). "A phylogenetic analysis of Diplodocoidea (Saurischia: Sauropoda)." Zoological Journal of the Linnean Society, Article first published online: 12 Jan 2011.
- Bonaparte, J.F., & Mateus, O. (1999). "A new diplodocid, Dinheirosaurus lourinhanensis gen. et sp. nov., from the Late Jurassic beds of Portugal". Revista del Museo Argentino de Ciencias Naturales. 5(2): 13-29.
- Upchurch, P., Barrett, P.M. and Dodson, P. 2004. "Sauropoda". In The Dinosauria, 2nd edition. D. Weishampel, P. Dodson, and H. Osmólska (eds.). University of California Press, Berkeley. Pp. 259–322.