Article: A revision of the sauropod dinosaur genus 'Bothriospondylus' with a redescription of the type material of the Middle Jurassic form 'B. madagascariensis'
Philip D. Mannion
The sauropod dinosaur 'Bothriospondylus', originally named on the basis of Late Jurassic remains from England, is demonstrated to be invalid, and the characters used to diagnose it are shown to be obsolescent features which are widespread throughout Sauropoda. Material referred to this genus spans a temporal range from the Middle Jurassic until the early Late Cretaceous and has been described from five different countries, across three continents. These remains represent a wide array of sauropod groups, comprising non-neosauropod eusauropods, a macronarian, titanosauriforms (including at least one definite brachiosaurid) and a rebbachisaurid. The type material of the Middle Jurassic 'B. madagascariensis' represents a derived non-neosauropod eusauropod and possesses two potential autapomorphies. However, as a result of the fragmentary nature of the material and the uncertainty surrounding its association, a new taxon is not erected. Of the numerous specimens referred to 'Bothriospondylus', however, several remains are considered diagnostic: Ornithopsis hulkei (Early Cretaceous, UK), Lapparentosaurus madagascariensis (Middle Jurassic, Madagascar) and Nopcsaspondylus alarconensis (early Late Cretaceous, Argentina). At least three types of sauropod were present in the Bathonian (Middle Jurassic) of north-west Madagascar, with a basal eusauropod (Archaeodontosaurus), a more derived eusauropod ('B. madagascariensis') and a titanosauriform (Lapparentosaurus) all approximately contemporaneous. Palaeocontinental reconstructions suggest that Middle Jurassic Madagascan sauropods would still have been capable of global biotic interchange, and this is perhaps reflected in their diverse assemblage. Re-evaluation of these Malagasy forms has shed new light on this important time period in sauropod evolution.