Etymology: "Kelameilishan mountains lizard from the Gobi desert"
Time horizon: Middle Jurassic, Bathonian-Callovian epochs (~166 mya)
Length: 16.7m (~55 ft.)
Probable mass: 10 tonsNOW AVAILABLE AS A HIGH-DEF PRINT - Own a piece of Jurassic history! Buy yours today! paleo-king.deviantart.com/art/…
*Skull now revised to bring it closer in proportions to the Tokyo museum sculpt* (the actual skull was not found with the holotype, and purported skull material has never been formally described.)
The most complete non-mamenchisaur high browser from Jurassic China, Klamelisaurus gobiensis
. A basal cousin of the earliest brachiosaurs, this midsized giant converged on mamenchisaurs in overall proportions. However the far more derived hips and shoulder blades are clearly those of a titanosauriform, and are an indicator of things to come.Klamelisaurus
had the extremely long neck and high vertebra count found in both mamenchisaurids and euhelopodids, indicating that this design evolved separately at least three times, all three being endemic to China. There must have been something about the environment which encouraged these common proportions, and made most other sauropod designs extremely rare. The odd thing about this animal is that it's not found anywhere near most mamenchisaurids, which hail from Sichuan province in the south - it's from China's far western regions, in the west end of the Gobi desert. Most of the Gobi is known purely for yielding Late Cretaceous dinosaurs (Iren Dabasu, Djadochta and Nemegt formations), so a Jurassic species from the Gobi is truly a rare prize. It may also indicate that not all of China's Jurassic forests were dominated by the mamenchisaur clan.
When exactly the klamelisaurids split from the brachiosaurids is unknown, but clues to their common origins may be found in a late-clinging descendant of those halcyon days of proto-titanosauriforms, the so-called "Lavocatitan"
What is known is that both Klamelisaurus
and the most basal brachiosaurids (i.e. Atlasaurus
) still had bifid neural spines in the lower neck and the first few dorsal vertebrae, a primitive trait retained from non-titanosauriform ancestors, which disappeared in later brachiosaurs, laurasiforms, and other basal titanosauriforms, only to be re-evolved in huanghetitanids, euhelopodids, and acrofornicans such as Phuwiangosaurus
A herd of juvenile specimens originally named Bellusaurus sui
have since become generally accepted as juveniles of Klamelisaurus
, based on ontogeny and stratigraphic age. This is one of the few cases of lumping I find credible anatomically, and it's some of the best evidence that sauropods lived in age-specific herds, and may have been specialized for eating different types of plants at different points in their lives. The type specimen of Klamelisaurus
appears to be mature based on the fusion of the coracoid with the scapula. Its first two dorsals already exhibit fusion, which is very unusual in this part of a sauropod, and a number of the caudals appear to exhibit some pathologies in the neural spines similar to what is seen in several individuals of various "Mamenchisaurus"
species. Apparently these animals took out a lot of anger on each other's tails.
Since its discovery in 1993, little other research has been done on Klamelisaurus
. However it is known that its family is not monospecific. The more obscure Daanosaurus zhangi
and its basal cousin Abrosaurus dongpoi ( = gigantorhinus)
are also likely klamelisaurs. Abrosaurus
is known from good skull material, although the skull is somewhat crushed, and as usual with these things, has often been restored incorrectly to look like something far more primitive (or even prosauropod-like) than what it really is.References
Zhao Xijing (1993) "A new Mid-Jurassic sauropod (Klamelisaurus gobiensis gen. et sp. nov.) from Xinjiang, China" Vertebrata PalAsiatica
Volume 31, No. 2 April, 1993 pp. 132-138