Saturnalia (genus)

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Temporal range: Late Triassic, 228 Ma
Saturnalia NT small.jpg
Life restoration
Scientific classification e
Kingdom: Animalia
Phylum: Chordata
Clade: Dinosauria
Order: Saurischia
Suborder: Sauropodomorpha
Family: Guaibasauridae
Subfamily: Saturnaliinae
Genus: Saturnalia
Langer et al., 1999
Species: S. tupiniquim
Binomial name
Saturnalia tupiniquim
Langer et al., 1999

Saturnalia is an extinct genus of basal sauropodomorph dinosaur known from the Triassic of Rio Grande do Sul, southern Brazil.[1]


Saturnalia was originally named on the basis of three partial skeletons. The holotype, MCP 3844-PV, a well-preserved semi-articulated postcranial skeleton, was discovered in mid-summer at Sanga da Alemoa, Rio Grande do Sul, in Brazil, in the geopark of Paleorrota. The two paratypes are MCP 3845-PV, partial skeleton including natural cast of partial mandible with teeth and some postcranial remains, and MCP 3846-PV, partial skeleton including postcranial remains. All specimen were collected in the "Wald-Sanga" (also known as "Sanga do Mato") locality from the Alemoa Member of the Santa Maria Formation (Rosário do Sul Group), dating to the Carnian faunal stage of the early Late Triassic, about 228 million years ago. A partial femur from the Carnian Pebbly Arkose Formation of Zimbabwe was also attributed to the genus. It is one of the oldest true dinosaurs yet found. It probably grew to about 1.5 meters (5 ft) long.[1]


Estimated size compared to a human.

Saturnalia was first named by Max C. Langer, Fernando Abdala, Martha Richter, Michael J. Benton in 1999 and the type species is Saturnalia tupiniquim. The generic name is derived from Saturnalia, Latin for "Carnival", in reference to the discovery of the paratypes during the feasting period. The specific name is derived from Portuguese and Guarani word meaning native.[1]


The primitive nature of Saturnalia, combined with its mixture of sauropodomorph and theropod characteristics, has made it difficult to classify. Paleontologist Max Cardoso Langer and colleagues, in their 1999 description of the genus, assigned it to the Sauropodomorpha.[1] However, in a 2003 paper, Langer noted that features of its skull and hand were more similar to the sister group of sauropodomorphs, the theropods, and that Saturnalia could at best be considered a member of the sauropodomorph "stem-lineage", rather than a true member of that group.[2]

José Bonaparte and colleagues, in a 2007 study, found Saturnalia to be very similar to the primitive saurischian Guaibasaurus. Bonaparte placed the two in the same family, Guaibasauridae. Like Langer, Bonaparte found that these forms may have been primitive sauropodomorphs, or an assemblage of forms close to the common ancestor of the sauropodomorphs and theropods. Overall, Bonaparte found that both Saturnalia and Guaibasaurus were more theropod-like than prosauropod-like.[3] However, all more recent cladistic analyses found it to be a very basal sauropodomorph,[4][5][6] possibly guaibasaurid, as the family was found to nest in a basal position within Sauropodomorpha.[7][8][9]


  1. ^ a b c d Langer, M.C., Abdala, F., Richter, M., and Benton, M. (1999). "A sauropodomorph dinosaur from the Upper Triassic (Carnian) of southern Brazil." Comptes Rendus de l'Académie des Sciences, 329: 511-;517.
  2. ^ Langer, M.C. (2003). "The pelvic and hind limb anatomy of the stem-sauropodomorph Saturnalia tupiniquim (Late Triassic, Brazil)." PaleoBios, 23(2): September 15, 2003.
  3. ^ Bonaparte J.F., Brea G., Schultz C.L., Martinelli A.G. (2007). "A new specimen of Guaibasaurus candelariensis (basal Saurischia) from the Late Triassic Caturrita Formation of southern Brazil". Historical Biology. 19 (1): 73–82. 
  4. ^ Yates, Adam M. (2007). "The first complete skull of the Triassic dinosaur Melanorosaurus Haughton (Sauropodomorpha: Anchisauria)". In Barrett & Batten (eds.), Evolution and Palaeobiology. 77: 9–55. ISBN 978-1-4051-6933-2. 
  5. ^ Pol D., Garrido A., Cerda I.A. (2011). Farke, Andrew Allen, ed. "A New Sauropodomorph Dinosaur from the Early Jurassic of Patagonia and the Origin and Evolution of the Sauropod-type Sacrum". PLoS ONE. 6 (1): e14572. PMC 3027623Freely accessible. PMID 21298087. doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0014572. 
  6. ^ Cecilia Apaldetti, Ricardo N. Martinez, Oscar A. Alcober and Diego Pol (2011). Claessens, Leon, ed. "A New Basal Sauropodomorph (Dinosauria: Saurischia) from Quebrada del Barro Formation (Marayes-El Carrizal Basin), Northwestern Argentina". PLoS ONE. 6 (11): e26964. PMC 3212523Freely accessible. PMID 22096511. doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0026964. 
  7. ^ Ezcurra, M. D. (2010). "A new early dinosaur (Saurischia: Sauropodomorpha) from the Late Triassic of Argentina: a reassessment of dinosaur origin and phylogeny". Journal of Systematic Palaeontology. 8 (3): 371–425. doi:10.1080/14772019.2010.484650. 
  8. ^ Fernando E. Novas, Martin D. Ezcurra, Sankar Chatterjee and T. S. Kutty (2011). "New dinosaur species from the Upper Triassic Upper Maleri and Lower Dharmaram formations of central India". Earth and Environmental Science Transactions of the Royal Society of Edinburgh. 101 (3–4): 333–349. doi:10.1017/S1755691011020093. 
  9. ^ Baron M.G., Norman D.B., Barrett P.M. (2017). "A new hypothesis of dinosaur relationships and early dinosaur evolution". Nature. 543: 501–506. doi:10.1038/nature21700. 

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