Temporal range: Middle - Late Jurassic, 170–148 Ma
|Afrovenator abakensis reconstruction|
Torvosauridae Jensen, 1985
Megalosauridae was a family of relatively primitive tetanuran theropod dinosaurs, order Saurischia. They were small-to-large carnivores with sharp teeth and three claws on each hand. Some members of this group were Megalosaurus, Eustreptospondylus, Streptospondylus and Torvosaurus. Megalosaurids first appeared in the mid Jurassic and seemed to have been displaced and replaced by other theropods by the end of that period; their fossils are known from Europe, North America, South America and Africa. They are considered by most researchers (Sereno 2005, Olshevsky 1995, Holtz 2004, etc.) to be close relatives of the spinosaurs.
Like Megalosaurus itself, the family Megalosauridae, coined by Huxley in 1869, had traditionally been used as a 'wastebasket' group, which included a wide variety of unrelated species (such as Dryptosaurus, Ceratosaurus, Indosaurus, and even Velociraptor). Because of this traditionally polyphyletic use, some scientists, such as Paul Sereno, reject the family name Megalosauridae in favor of Torvosauridae (coined by Jensen in 1985), despite the fact that Megalosauridae has priority under the ICZN rules governing family-level names in zoology. While a 2008 review of Megalosaurus by Benson and colleagues also found that the relationships of Megalosaurus to other theropods could not be determined, and that the assignment of basal spinosauroids to the family Megalosauridae should be discontinued, further work by Benson reversed this position, finding a well-supported Megalosauridae in phylogenetic analyses.
The clade Megalosauridae was first given a phylogenetic definition by Allain in 2002. According to Allain's definition, a megalosaurid is any dinosaur that shares a common ancestor with Poekilopleuron valesdunensis (since reclassified as Dubreuillosaurus), Torvosaurus, and Afrovenator. In 2004, Holtz and colleagues proposed a new definition: all dinosaurs more closely related to Megalosaurus than to Spinosaurus, Allosaurus, or modern birds (represented by Passer domesticus). In 2005, Sereno rejected the use of Megalosauridae as a clade altogether, due to the fragmentary nature of Megalosaurus, and used the name Torvosauridae instead, using the same definition as Holtz but replacing Megalosaurus with Torvosaurus.
Carrano, Benson & Sampson (2012) performed a much larger phylogenetic analysis of the Tetanurae that includes more taxa. They used the clade name Megalosauria (Bonaparte, 1850) in their analysis and defined it as the node comprising Megalosaurus, Spinosaurus, their most recent common ancestor, and all its descendants. Furthermore, a new megalosauroid family Piatnitzkysauridae was named to include all megalosauroids more closely related to Piatnitzkysaurus than to either Spinosaurus or Megalosaurus. Within Megalosauridae a new subfamily was named, Afrovenatorinae, to include all megalosaurids more closely related to Afrovenator than to Megalosaurus. Unlike Benson et al., 2010, they recovered Poekilopleuron as an afrovenatorine, while Xuanhanosaurus was recovered as the basalmost metriacanthosaurid. However, the position of these taxa is very unstable, and their exclusion from the analysis gave more resolved and stable cladogram. Streptospondylus was also excluded to get more resolved Megalosauridae and Afrovenatorinae. Streptospondylus itself was recovered as the basalmost spinosaurid or the basalmost megalosaurid or a eustreptospondyline. The Chinese tetanuran Leshansaurus was included for the first time in a phylogenetic analysis, and was recovered as an afrovenatorine. The cladogram presented here follows that study.
- Sereno, P.C. (2005). Stem Archosauria—TaxonSearch [version 1.0, 2005 November 7]
- Benson R.B.J., Barrett P.M., Powell H.P., Norman D.B. (2008). "The taxonomic status of Megalosaurus bucklandii (Dinosauria, Theropoda) from the Middle Jurassic of OxfordshireE, UK.". Palaeontology 51 (2): 419–424. doi:10.1111/j.1475-4983.2008.00751.x.
- Benson, R.B.J. (2010). "A description of Megalosaurus bucklandii (Dinosauria: Theropoda) from the Bathonian of the UK and the relationships of Middle Jurassic theropods". Zoological Journal of the Linnean Society 158: 882. doi:10.1111/j.1096-3642.2009.00569.x.
- Allain R (2002). "Discovery of megalosaur (Dinosauria, Theropoda) in the middle Bathonian of Normandy (France) and its implications for the phylogeny of basal Tetanurae". Journal of Vertebrate Paleontology 22 (3): 548–563. doi:10.1671/0272-4634(2002)022[0548:DOMDTI]2.0.CO;2.
- Holtz, T.R., Molnar, R.E., Currie, P.J. (2004). "Basal Tetanurae." In Weishampel, D.B., Dodson, P., & Osmolska, H. (Eds.). The Dinosauria (2nd Edition). Berkeley: University of California Press. Pp. 71-110.
- Benson, R.B.J., Carrano, M.T and Brusatte, S.L. (2010). "A new clade of archaic large-bodied predatory dinosaurs (Theropoda: Allosauroidea) that survived to the latest Mesozoic". Naturwissenschaften 97 (1): 71–78. Bibcode:2010NW.....97...71B. doi:10.1007/s00114-009-0614-x. PMID 19826771. Supporting Information
- Carrano, M. T.; Benson, R. B. J.; Sampson, S. D. (2012). "The phylogeny of Tetanurae (Dinosauria: Theropoda)". Journal of Systematic Palaeontology 10 (2): 211–300. doi:10.1080/14772019.2011.630927.