Veterupristisaurus

Veterupristisaurus (/"veh-ter-oo-priss-tee-SORE-us"/; "ancient saw shark") is a genus of theropod dinosaur from the Late Jurassic period (Kimmeridgian to early Tithonian stages), approximately 157-152 million years ago. Its fossils were discovered in the Tendaguru Formation of Tanzania in East Africa. The genus and type species, Veterupristisaurus milneri, were first described by German paleontologist Oliver W. M. Rauhut in 2011. The species name, V. milneri, honors paleontologist Angela Milner.

Description and Classification

Veterupristisaurus belongs to the Carcharodontosauridae, a family of large predatory theropods. Carcharodontosaurids were among the largest land predators of their time, characterized by their massive skulls, powerful jaws, and serrated teeth. While fragmentary, the available fossils of Veterupristisaurus suggest an estimated length of around 8.5 to 10 meters (28-33 feet).

Distinguishing Features

Veterupristisaurus is known primarily from a single, large dorsal (back) vertebra. This vertebra possesses several features that link it to the carcharodontosaurid family:

  • Tall neural spine: The most notable feature is an exceptionally tall neural spine,the bony projection extending upwards from the vertebra. This structure likely supported powerful neck and back muscles.
  • Pneumatization: The vertebra has large internal air pockets, a common feature in carcharodontosaurids, allowing for a strong but lightweight skeleton.

Paleoenvironment and Diet

During the Late Jurassic, the Tendaguru Formation was a diverse ecosystem with lush vegetation. Veterupristisaurus, as a large carnivore, likely preyed upon other dinosaurs in the area. Potential prey could have included smaller theropods, ornithopods, or even juvenile sauropods.

Significance and Ongoing Research

The discovery of Veterupristisaurus adds to our understanding of carcharodontosaurid diversity in Africa during the Late Jurassic period. While the fossil material is limited, it hints at the presence of a large and powerful predator within the Tendaguru ecosystem. Further discoveries are needed to provide a more complete picture of this dinosaur's anatomy, lifestyle, and its relationship to other carcharodontosaurids.

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