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Keywords:

  • Dinosauria;
  • Sauropoda;
  • Neosauropoda;
  • Xenoposeidon proneneukos;
  • Wealden;
  • Hastings Beds Group;
  • Lower Cretaceous

Abstract: Xenoposeidon proneneukos gen. et sp. nov. is a neosauropod represented by BMNH R2095, a well-preserved partial mid-to-posterior dorsal vertebra from the Berriasian–Valanginian Hastings Beds Group of Ecclesbourne Glen, East Sussex, England. It was briefly described by Lydekker in 1893, but it has subsequently been overlooked. This specimen's concave cotyle, large lateral pneumatic fossae, complex system of bony laminae and camerate internal structure show that it represents a neosauropod dinosaur. However, it differs from all other sauropods in the form of its neural arch, which is taller than the centrum, covers the entire dorsal surface of the centrum, has its posterior margin continuous with that of the cotyle, and slopes forward at 35 degrees relative to the vertical. Also unique is a broad, flat area of featureless bone on the lateral face of the arch; the accessory infraparapophyseal and postzygapophyseal laminae which meet in a V; and the asymmetric neural canal, small and round posteriorly but large and teardrop-shaped anteriorly, bounded by arched supporting laminae. The specimen cannot be referred to any known sauropod genus, and clearly represents a new genus and possibly a new ‘family’. Other sauropod remains from the Hastings Beds Group represent basal Titanosauriformes, Titanosauria and Diplodocidae; X. proneneukos may bring to four the number of sauropod ‘families’ represented in this unit. Sauropods may in general have been much less morphologically conservative than is usually assumed. Since neurocentral fusion is complete in R2095, it is probably from a mature or nearly mature animal. Nevertheless, size comparisons of R2095 with corresponding vertebrae in the Brachiosaurus brancai holotype HMN SII and Diplodocus carnegii holotype CM 84 suggest a rather small sauropod: perhaps 15 m long and 7600 kg in mass if built like a brachiosaurid, or 20 m and 2800 kg if built like a diplodocid.