Abdarainurus barsboldi – A New Species of Late Cretaceous Sauropod from Mongolia

A researcher from the Zoological Institute of the Russian Academy of Sciences (St Petersburg, Russia), in collaboration with a colleague from the Borissiak Paleontological Institute of the Russian Academy of Sciences located in Moscow, have published a description of a new type of long-necked dinosaur from Mongolia.  The dinosaur has been named Abdarainurus barsboldi (pronounced Ab-darah-in-you-rus bars-bold-eye).  Named from fragmentary caudal material (fossil tail bones), the scientists conclude that this new long-necked dinosaur represents a highly specialised lineage of Asian sauropods that was previously unknown to science.

A Life Reconstruction of the Newly Described Mongolian Sauropod A. barsboldi

Life reconstruction of the newly described Asian sauropod Abdarainurus barsboldi.
Abdarainurus barsboldi life reconstruction.

Picture credit: Andrey Atuchin

Abdarainurus barsboldi

The picture (above), shows a speculative life reconstruction of Abdarainurus barsboldi wandering across a floodplain with the soft-shelled turtle (Trionychidae spp.) in the foreground close to the bleached tree stump, whilst a pair of unconcerned ankylosaurus (Pinacosaurus) wander past in the background.  Described from a series of eight caudal vertebrae from the base of the tail, along with some middle tail bones and associated chevrons, the fossil material was originally discovered during an expedition to the northern Gobi Desert in 1970, however, the fossils remained unstudied until recently.  Tail bones of sauropods can be very diagnostic with numerous autapomorphies (distinctive features), that can help the identification of fossil remains down to the species level (in this case a new species).

The Alagteeg Formation of Mongolia

The Upper Cretaceous deposits that make up the Alagteeg Formation, from whence the fossil material came, represent an extensive, low-lying floodplain.  A number of dinosaur species have been identified from these Campanian-aged rocks, including Protoceratops, as well as the armoured dinosaur Pinacosaurus.  The genus name for this new sauropod is derived from the Russian spelling for the Abdrant Nuru locality (Abdarain Nuru) and urus, the Latinised term for the tail, a reference to the holotype fossil material.

The species name honours Dr Rinchen Barsbold, a Mongolian vertebrate palaeontologist who has done much to improve understanding regarding the geology of Mongolia and worked tirelessly to excavate the fossil rich deposits of the Gobi Desert and better understand the ancient palaeofauna of Asia.

A phylogenetic analysis carried out by the authors of the scientific paper places A. barsboldi as a basal titanosaurian sauropod, but the researchers urge caution with regards to this placement due to a lack of consensus with regards to the taxonomy of basal titanosaurs.  They conclude that it is likely that Abdarainurus represents a highly specialised lineage of Asian macronarian sauropods that was unknown to science previously.

The scientific paper: “An unusual new sauropod dinosaur from the Late Cretaceous of Mongolia” by Alexander O. Averianov and Alexey V. Lopatin published in the Journal of Systematic Palaeontology.

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