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Wintonotitan

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Wintonotitan wattsi
800px-Wintonotitan
Name Wintonotitan wattsi
Order Saurischia
Suborder Sauropodomorpha
Class Sauropsida
Name Translation Winton Titan
Period Early Cretaceous (112-100 million years ago)
Location Australia
Diet Plants (Conifers, ferns)
Size 15 metres (45 feet) long, 3.6 metres (11.5 feet) tall, and 13 tons

Wintonotitan (meaning “Winton titan”) is a genus of titanosauriform dinosaur from late Albian (Early Cretaceous)-age rocks of Australia. It is known from partial postcranial remains.

Description and historyEdit

Fossils that are now known under the name Wintonotitan were first found in 1974 by Keith Watts. At the time, the specimens were assigned to an Austrosaurus sp., Austrosaurus then being the only named Australian Cretaceous sauropod genus. These fossils, catalogued as QMF 7292, consisted of a left shoulder blade, much of the forelimbs, a number of back, hip, and tail vertebrae, part of the right hip, ribs, chevrons, and unidentifiable fragments. QMF 7292 was established as the type specimen of Wintonotitan in 2009 by Scott Hocknull and colleagues. The type species is W. wattsi, honoring the original discoverer. A phylogenetic analysis found Wintonotitan to be a basal titanosauriform sauropod, in a comparable part of the titanosauriform tree to Phuwiangosaurus.

PaleobiologyEdit

QMF 7292 was found about 60 kilometres (37 mi) northwest of Winton, near Elderslie Station. A second specimen, QMF 10916, consisting of isolated tail vertebrae, was found at Chorregan. Both were recovered from the lower part of the Winton Formation, dated to the latest Albian. QMF 7292 was found in sandstone interpreted as a point bar of a river. Also found at the site were fish fragments, a theropod tooth, and a variety of plant fossils, including woody stems, branch impressions, cones and cone scales, and pieces of leaves. The Winton Formation had a faunal assemblage including bivalves, gastropods, insects, the lungfish Metaceratodus, turtles, the crocodilian Isisfordia, pterosaurs, and several types of dinosaurs, such as the theropod Australovenator, the sauropod Diamantinasaurus, and unnamed ankylosaurians and hypsilophodonts. Wintonotitan bones can be distinguished from Diamantinasaurus bones because Wintonotitan bones are not as robust. Plants known from the formation include ferns, ginkgoes, gymnosperms, and angiosperms. Like other sauropods, Wintonotitan would have been a large quadrupedal herbivore.

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