The oldest titanosaurian sauropod of the Northern Hemisphere
Volgatitan simbirskiensis, gen. et sp. nov., is described based on a series of anterior and middle caudal vertebrae from a single individual discovered in the Lower Cretaceous (upper Hauterivian, Speetoniceras versicolor ammonite Zone) marine deposits at Slantsevy Rudnik vertebrate locality near Ulyanovsk City, Russia. The new taxon is characterized by strongly procoelous anterior and middle caudal vertebrae, a long centrum of the first caudal vertebra, a strong ventral ridge in the anterior and middle caudal vertebrae, a neural arch positioned at the anterior half of the centrum, hyposphene-hypantrum articulation in the anterior caudal vertebrae, and somphospondylous bone texture. Phylogenetic analysis places the new taxon as a lithostrotian titanosaur, a basal member of the lineage leading to the Lognkosauria. This lineage previously contained only South American taxa with body mass reaching 60–70 tons. Volgatitan gen. nov. is the first European and the geologically oldest representative of this lineage. Its body mass is estimated as 17.3 tons. Discovery of Volgatitan gen. nov. suggests that the lithostrotian lineage leading to the Lognkosauria had a wider distribution in the Early Cretaceous and became extinct everywhere except South America by the end of the Early Cretaceous.
Dinosauria, Sauropoda, Titanosauriformes, Titanosauria, Lithostrotia, Early Cretaceous, Eastern Europe, Russia
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