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The earliest known sauropod dinosaur


Sauropods were a very successful group of dinosaurs during the Jurassic and Cretaceous periods, but their earlier history is poorly known. Until now, the earliest reported sauropod bones were from the Early Jurassic1,2,3, and the only tentative evidence of earlier sauropods was in the form of controversial footprints4,5. Here we report the discovery of an incomplete sauropod skeleton from the Late Triassic period of Thailand, which provides the first osteological evidence of pre-Jurassic sauropods. This dinosaur is markedly different from prosauropods and substantiates theoretical predictions that there was a fairly long period of sauropod evolution during the Triassic.

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Figure 1: Isanosaurus attavipachi, elements of the holotype, palaeontological collection of the Department of Mineral Ressources, Thailand, no. CH4.
Figure 2: Left femur of Isanosaurus attavipachi (CH4-1).

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This work was supported by the Geological Survey of Thailand, a special grant from the Institut National des Sciences de l’Univers (Paris), the Association Dinosauria (Espéraza, France), the Jurassic Foundation (Drumheller, Canada) and a NERC grant to G.C. We thank A. Milner (The Natural History Museum, London) for access to specimens in her care, and G. Olshevsky and T. Ford for bibliographic help.

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Correspondence to Eric Buffetaut.

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Buffetaut, E., Suteethorn, V., Cuny, G. et al. The earliest known sauropod dinosaur. Nature 407, 72–74 (2000).

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