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Temporal range: Late Jurassic, 161.2–150.8 Ma
Illustration of the vertebrae
Scientific classification e
Kingdom: Animalia
Phylum: Chordata
Class: Reptilia
Clade: Dinosauria
Order: Saurischia
Suborder: Sauropodomorpha
Clade: Neosauropoda
Clade: Macronaria
Clade: Titanosauriformes
Family: Bothriospondylidae
Lydekker, 1895
Genus: Bothriospondylus
Owen, 1875
Species: B. suffossus
Binomial name
Bothriospondylus suffossus
Owen, 1875

Bothriospondylus ("excavated vertebra") is an dubious genus of sauropod dinosaur. It lived during the Late Jurassic.

The type species, Bothriospondylus suffossus, was described by Richard Owen in 1875.[1] The specific epithet suffossus means "undermined" in Latin, a reference to the fact that pleurocoels had hollowed out the sides of the vertebra. It is often incorrectly spelled as "suffosus". Owen based the species on holotype BMNH R44592-5, a set of four dorsal vertebrae found in Wiltshire in a stratum from the Kimmeridgian, the Kimmeridge Clay. Also three unfused sacral vertebrae were referred.

At the same time Owen named three other species of Bothriospondylus. B. robustus was based on BMNH R22428, a dorsal from the same location. B. elongatus was based on a vertebra from Sussex, BMNH R2239, an original syntype of Ornithopsis hulkei. Finally, B. magnus was a new name for another syntype of Ornithopsis hulkei Seeley 1870, the present lectotype NHM 28632. Owen himself in an addendum to the same publication renamed B. robustus to Marmarospondylus robustus. Friedrich von Huene in 1908 referred the material to Pelorosaurus and in 1922 made B. suffossus into a Ornithopsis suffossa because the latter generic name has priority. Nevertheless other finds were referred to Bothriospondylus. Franz Nopcsa in 1902 had already done that with a vertebra from Argentina that later would be renamed Nopcsaspondylus. Fragments from France[2] and teeth from Portugal would follow.

More complete material from Madagascar had in 1895 been named by Richard Lydekker as a fifth species: Bothriospondylus madagascariensis. This would in 1986 be renamed Lapparentosaurus by José Fernando Bonaparte.

A revision in 2010 by Philip Mannion concluded that Bothriospondylus is a nomen dubium. However, a specimen from Madagascar earlier referred to Lapparentosaurus, MNHN MAJ 289, would have been a separate taxon that for the time being is designated as ?Bothriospondylus madagascariensis or "Bothriospondylus" madagascariensis.[3] An earlier study concluded that this form possessed a for sauropods unique number of five carpal bones, staggered in three rows.[4]

In life the adult length of Bothriospondylus has been estimated at fifteen to twenty meters (50–65 feet). These dimensions fall between Brachiosaurus and Pleurocoelus.

Bothriospondylus has over the years been assigned to many groups — even in a Bothriospondylidae of its own — with Brachiosauridae lately being the most popular designation. However, the sparse and eroded material shows no synapomorphies of the Brachiosauridae and cannot be further determined than a very general Neosauropoda. ?Bothriospondylus madagascariensis would have been a basal member of Eusauropoda outside of the neosauropod clade. This meant it was more related to the Eusauropoda than neosauropods such as Brachiosaurus.


  1. ^ Owen, R., 1875, "A monograph on the Fossil Reptilia of the Mesozoic Formations. Monograph on the Genus Bothriospondylus", Palaeontographical Society, 29: 15-26
  2. ^ de Lapparent, A.F., 1943, "Les dinosauriens jurassiques de Damparis (Jura)", Mémoires de la Société Géologique de France 47: 5–20
  3. ^ Mannion, P.D., 2010 "A revision of the sauropod dinosaur genus 'Bothriospondylus' with a redescription of the type material of the middle Jurassic form 'B. madagascariensis'", Palaeontology, 53(2): 277–296
  4. ^ Läng É. & Goussard F., 2007, "Redescription of the wrist and manus of ?Bothriospondylus madagascariensis: new data on carpus morphology in Sauropoda", Geodiversitas 29(4) :549-560
  • J.F. Bonaparte, 1986, "Les dinosaures (Carnosaures, Allosauridés, Sauropodes, Cétosauridés) du Jurassique Moyen de Cerro Cóndor (Chubut, Argentina)", Annales de Paléontologie (Vert.-Invert.) 72(3): 325-386
  • Lydekker, R. 1895. On bones of a sauropodous dinosaur from Madagascar. Quarterly Journal of the Geological Society of London, 51, 329–336.
  • Moine, O. 1999. Datation, condition de de´poˆ t et position phyloge´ne´tique de ‘Bothriospondylus madagascariensis’ (Damparis, Jura, France). Unpublished master’s Thesis, Me´moires de Maıˆtrise Magiste`re Sciences de la Terre ENS-Lyon.
  • Nopcsa, F. 1902. Notizen uber Cretacischen Dinosaurier. Pt. 3. Wirbel eines sudamerikanischen Sauropoden. Akademie der Wissenschaften, 3, 108–114.
  • Ogier, A. 1975. E ´ tude de nouveaux ossements de Bothriospondylus (Sauropode) d’un gisement du Bathonien de Madagascar. Unpublished PhD Thesis, Universite´ de Paris, 102 pp.
  • Thevenin, A. 1907. Pale´ontologie de Madagascar. Annales de Pale´ontologie, 2, 121–136.
  • Thulborn, R. A. 1973. Teeth of ornithischian dinosaurs from the Upper Jurassic of Portugal. Memo´ria dos Servic¸os Geolo´gicos de Portugal (Nuova Se´ria), 22, 89–134.