Temporal range: Middle Jurassic, 164.7Ma
|Gasosaurus (left), Agilisaurus (right), a herbivore. At Zigong Museum|
Dong & Tang, 1985
Gasosaurus (Chinese: 气龙属) was a tetanuran dinosaur discovered in Dashanpu, China. The scientific name, meaning "Gas Lizard", honours the gasoline company that found the Dashanpu fossil quarry in Sichuan Province, now named as the Lower Shaximiao Formation. It had strong legs but short arms, and like most theropods, it was a carnivore. It measured between 3.5 to 4 metres (11 to 13 ft) in length, with a weight of around 150 kilograms (330 lb), placing it in the midrange of theropods by size. However, some estimates put its weight as high as 400 kilograms (880 lb), as very little is known about this dinosaur. It lived during the mid-Jurassic period (Bathonian and/ or Callovian stages), around 164 million years ago.
Discovery and species
The first and to date only fossils, albeit postcranial (missing the skull), were recovered in 1985 during the construction of a gas facility, which explains the dinosaur's unusual name. The fossils were defined as the type species Gasosaurus constructus by the paleontologists Dong Zhiming and Tang Zilu. There have still been very few fossils retrieved, so exact details are unknown. Specifically, no skull has been found. Some paleontologists have speculated that Gasosaurus and Kaijiangosaurus may be one and the same species. Traditionally thought to be a megalosauroid, Holtz (2000) found it to be a basal coelurosaurian, although later Holtz et al. (2004) suggested it was a basal carnosaur (possibly a sinraptorid) on the basis of data from undescribed specimens. It may in fact be the most basal coelurosaurian yet known, or may even be close to the common ancestor of the two groups; in any case, it represents one of the oldest definitive tetanuran theropods.
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- Dong and Tang, 1985. A new Mid-Jurassic theropod (Gasosaurus constructus gen et sp. nov.) from Dashanpu, Zigong, Sichuan Province, China. Vertebrata PalAsiatica. 23(1), 77-82.
- Holtz, 2000. A new phylogeny of the carnivorous dinosaurs. Gaia. 15, 5-61.
- Holtz TR Jr, Molnar RE, Currie PJ. 2004. Basal Tetanurae. In: Weishampel DB, Dodson P, Osmólska H, eds. The dinosauria, 2nd edn. Berkeley, CA: University of California Press, 71–110.
- Creisler, B. (Fall 1994). "Chinese Dinosaurs: Naming the Dragons". Dinosaur Report: pp. 16–17.
- "Fantastic Facts About Dinosaurs" (ISBN 0-7525-3166-2)