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28 February 2021 The Earliest Known Titanosaur Sauropod Dinosaur
Pablo Ariel Gallina, Juan Ignacio Canale, José Luis Carballido
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The titanosaur sauropod record of Patagonia, mainly recovered from Upper Cretaceous strata, is probably the richest worldwide. Here we present a new sauropod dinosaur, Ninjatitan zapatai gen. et sp. nov., from the Lower Cretaceous Bajada Colorada Formation (Berriasian–Valanginian) of north Patagonia (Neuquén Province, Argentina), from which postcranial remains are preserved. The anatomical analysis and comparisons performed in this specimen evidence strong affinity with titanosaur sauropods. This assumption is corroborated with the inclusion of the new taxon in an updated phylogenetic data matrix. The cladistic analyses indicate that Ninjatitan could be considered the earliest known titanosaur sauropod. The combination of features such as the presence of procoelous anterior caudal centra, the pneumatized neural arch of anterior caudal vertebrae, and the posterodorsal border of the scapular acromion near the glenoid level supports its titanosaur affinities. The presence of a basal titanosaurian sauropod in the lowermost Cretaceous of Patagonia supports the hypothesis that the group was established in the Southern Hemisphere and reinforces the idea of a Gondwanan origin for Titanosauria. The Bajada Colorada sauropod fauna represents one of the most diverse and unique associations from the lowermost Cretaceous worldwide recorded.

Pablo Ariel Gallina, Juan Ignacio Canale, and José Luis Carballido "The Earliest Known Titanosaur Sauropod Dinosaur," Ameghiniana 58(1), 35-51, (28 February 2021).
Received: 25 June 2020; Accepted: 20 August 2020; Published: 28 February 2021
Lower Cretaceous
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