The Dubious Sauropod Bothriospondylus

Occasionally, Everything Dinosaur features the artwork of the talented Chinese palaeoartist Zhao Chuang on this blog.  Today, we feature one of his illustrations of a dubious species of sauropod named from fragmentary fossils found in Wiltshire.

An Illustration of the Sauropod Bothriospondylus (B. suffossus) by Zhao Chuang)

The sauropod Bothriospondylus illustrated by Zhao Chuang.

An illustration of the dubious (nomen dubium) sauropod Bothriospondylus by the Chinese artist Zhao Chuang.

Picture Credit: Zhao Chuang (from the Science Art World by Zhao Chuang and Yang Yang)

Named and described by Richard Owen in 1875, based on four dorsal vertebrae collected from Upper Jurassic strata (Kimmeridgian faunal stage), a number of species have subsequently been assigned to this genus including a species based on fossils from as far afield as Madagascar.

The four vertebrae (along with three unfused, fragmentary sacral vertebrae), referred to this species are now regarded as non-diagnostic.  They lack distinctive characteristics to permit the establishment of a new genus, therefore Bothriospondylus is regarded by most palaeontologists as nomen dubium.

What Does Nomen Dubium Mean?

Nomen dubium is a term that we have explained in previous articles on this blog.  It simply means that the name given to the organism is doubted.  Any organism whose validity is in doubt is regarded as nomen dubium.

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