Earth and Environmental Science Transactions of the Royal Society of Edinburgh

Research Article

New dinosaur species from the Upper Triassic Upper Maleri and Lower Dharmaram formations of Central India

Fernando E. Novasa1a2, Martin D. Ezcurraa1, Sankar Chatterjeea3 and T. S. Kuttya4

a1 Laboratorio de Anatomía Comparada y Evolución de los Vertebrados, Museo Argentino de Ciencias Naturales, Ángel Gallardo 470 C1405DJR, Buenos Aires, Argentina

a2 CONICET Email: fernovas@yahoo.com.ar

a3 Museum of Texas Tech University, Box 43191, Lubbock, TX 79409, USA

a4 Geological Studies Unit, Indian Statistical Institute, 203 B.T. Road, Calcutta 700035, India

ABSTRACT

The beginning of dinosaur evolution is currently known based on a handful of highly informative Gondwanan outcrops of Ischigualastian age (late Carnian–early Norian). The richest Triassic dinosaur records of the southern continents are those of South America and South Africa, with taxonomically diverse faunas, whereas faunas from India and central Africa are more poorly known. Here, the known diversity of Gondwanan Triassic dinosaurs is increased with new specimens from central India, which allow a more comprehensive characterisation of these dinosaur assemblages. Five dinosauriform specimens are reported from the probable late Norian–earliest Rhaetian Upper Maleri Formation, including two new sauropodomorph species, the non-plateosaurian Nambalia roychowdhurii and the plateosaurian Jaklapallisaurus asymmetrica, a guaibasaurid and two basal dinosauriforms. The Lower Dharmaram Formation, probably latest Norian–Rhaetian in age, includes basal sauropodomorph and neotheropod remains, providing the second record of a Triassic Gondwanan neotheropod. The currently available evidence suggests that the oldest known Gondwanan dinosaur assemblages (Ischigualastian) were not homogeneous, but more diverse in South America than in India. In addition, the Upper Maleri and Lower Dharmaram dinosaur assemblages resemble purported coeval South American and European beds in the presence of basal sauropodomorphs. Accordingly, the current available evidence of the Triassic beds of the Pranhita–Godavari Basin suggests that dinosaurs increased in diversity and abundance during the late Norian to Rhaetian in this region of Gondwana.

Key Words:

  • Archosauria;
  • Gondwana;
  • macroevolution;
  • phylogeny;
  • Sauropodomorpha