Happy Turiasaurus Family

This is a drawing I originally did for the Paleocast 2016 Art Competition which got AWESOME submission and you should really check out. It features a family of Turiasaurus riodevensis having a mud bath in a tidal mud plain or tidal-flat, at the shore of the Tethys Ocean.

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“Happy Turiasaurus Family”

Turiasaurus was first described in Royo-Torres et al., 2006 from the Late Tithonian-Middle Berriasian of Teruel (Spain), near the town of Riodeva. Turiasaurus is among the largest dinosaurs known, with 36–39 metres in length and with a weight of 40-48 tonnes. The genus name makes reference to Teruel’s main river, the Turia. The fossils were found in an outcrop of the Villar del Arzobispo Formation, which can be found through most of the Iberian Ranges.

The Villar del Arzobispo Fm. has been traditionally interpreted as a coastal unit of Tithonian age. However, recent studies (Campos-Soto et al., 2016) claim that the older sub-units within the Formation are of Kimmeridgian age and marine in nature. The sub-unit containing the tidal-flats in which Turiasaurus was discovered has not yet been studied, but it may be older than previously thought.

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Pic I took during my trip to Teruel. Rafael Royo shows us how Turiasaurus hand bones fit inside a saurupod footprint found at the Villar del Arzobispo Formation.

I was lucky to travel to Teruel during my Master’s course where I was able to take a look at Villar del Arzobispo Fm. There, Rafael Royo (one of the paleontologist who first described Turiasaurs) showed us some sauropod footprints and how Turiasaurus hand bones fitted inside.

The vegetation is again shoved to the background and the dinos take the main focus. There is no reason to believe that sauropods didn’t take mud baths to fight the high temperatures and get rid of skin parasites, as big mammals do today. You can see some pterosaurs flying around and on the back of the two adult Turiasaurus. These pterosaurs are feeding on the dinosaur’s skin parasites, as some birds do with rhinos and elephants today. There is no proof of this symbiotic behavior in the fossil record, but seems kind of natural.

I drew two rhamphorhynchus flying between the dinos. These pterosaurus are not found in the same site, but they did live during this age and are found all throught europe.

The brownish coloration of the dinos is not based on any scientific evidence; in fact, I choose that coloration after looking at some cows from Asturias. Not the best method of assigning coloration patterns to dinosaurs, but I think it works here.

Hope you like it. I promise the next one will have more paleoenvironmental weight.

Sources:

Campos-Soto, S., Benito, M. I., Mas, R., Caus, E., Cobos, A., Suárez-González, P., & Quijada, I. E. (2016). Revisiting the Late Jurassic-Early Cretaceous of the NW South Iberian Basin: new ages and sedimentary environments.

Royo-Torres, R., Cobos, A., & Alcalá, L. (2006). A giant European dinosaur and a new sauropod clade. Science314(5807), 1925-1927.