|Limaysaurus tessonei skeleton restoration|
In 1990 sauropod specialist Jack McIntosh included the first known rebbachisaurid genus, the giant North African sauropod Rebbachisaurus, in the family Diplodocidae, subfamily Dicraeosaurinae, on the basis of skeletal details. With the discovery in subsequent years of a number of additional genera, it was realised that Rebbachisaurus and its relatives constituted a distinct group of dinosaurs. In 1997 the Argentine paleontologist José Bonaparte described the family Rebbachisauridae, and in 2011 Whitlock defined two new subfamilies within the group: Nigersaurinae and Limaysaurinae. Cladogram of the Rebbachisauridae after Fanti et al. (2013) which is based on Carballido et al. (2012):
Cladogram after Fanti et al., 2015.
Evolutionary relationships and characteristics
Although all authorities agree that the rebbachisaurids are members of the superfamily Diplodocoidea, they lack the bifid (divided) cervical neural spines that characterise the diplodocids and dicraeosaurids, and for this reason are considered more primitive than the latter two groups. It is not yet known whether they share the distinctive whip-tail of the latter two taxa.
Unique among sauropods, at least some rebbachisaurids (such as Nigersaurus) are characterised by the presence of tooth batteries, similar to those of hadrosaur and ceratopsian dinosaurs. Such a feeding adaptation has thus developed independently three times among the dinosaurs.
So far, rebbachisaurids are known only from the middle and early part of the Late Cretaceous. Unless the nemegtosaurids are in fact diplodocoids (rather than titanosaurs), then the rebbachisaurids represent the last known representatives of this clade, and lived alongside the titanosaurs until fairly late in the Cretaceous. So far, no rebbachisaurids are known from the very end of the Cretaceous period.
- Bonaparte J.F. (1997). "Rayososaurus grioensis Bonaparte 1995". Ameghiniana. 34 (1): 116.
- McIntosh, J. S., 1990, "Sauropoda" in The Dinosauria, Edited by David B. Weishampel, Peter Dodson, and Halszka Osmólska. University of California Press, pp. 345–401.
- Upchurch, P., Barrett, P.M. and Dodson, P. 2004. "Sauropoda". In The Dinosauria, 2nd edition. Weishampel, Dodson, and Osmólska (eds.). University of California Press, Berkeley. pp. 259–322.
- Wilson J.A. (2002). "Sauropod dinosaur phylogeny: critique and cladistic analysis" (PDF). Zoological Journal of the Linnean Society. 136 (2): 215–275. doi:10.1046/j.1096-3642.2002.00029.x.
- ------ (2005) "Overview of Sauropod Phylogeny and Evolution", in The Sauropods: Evolution and Paleobiology
- Wilson, J. A. and Sereno, P.C. (2005) "Structure and Evolution of a Sauropod Tooth Battery" in The Sauropods: Evolution and Paleobiology in Curry Rogers and Wilson, eds, 2005, The Sauropods: Evolution and Paleobiology, University of California Press, Berkeley, ISBN 0-520-24623-3
- Paul C. Sereno, Jeffrey A. Wilson, Lawrence M. Witmer, John A. Whitlock, Abdoulaye Maga, Oumarou Ide, Timothy A. Rowe (2007). Kemp, Tom, ed. "Structural Extremes in a Cretaceous Dinosaur". PLoS ONE. 2 (11): e1230. doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0001230. PMC 2077925. PMID 18030355.
- Carballido, José Luis; Salgado, Leonardo; Pol, Diego; Canudo, José Ignacio; Garrido, Alberto (2012). "A new basal rebbachisaurid (Sauropoda, Diplodocoidea) from the Early Cretaceous of the Neuquén Basin; evolution and biogeography of the group". Historical Biology. 24 (6): 631–654. doi:10.1080/08912963.2012.672416.
- Fanti, F.; Cau, A.; Cantelli, L.; Hassine, M.; Auditore, M. (2015). "New Information on Tataouinea hannibalis from the Early Cretaceous of Tunisia and Implications for the Tempo and Mode of Rebbachisaurid Sauropod Evolution". PLOS ONE. 10 (4): e123475. doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0123475. PMC 4414570. PMID 25923211.