A new species of dinosaur has been named and described from a jawbone found in Castellón, Spain. The dinosaur has been named Portellsaurus sosbaynati and it has been classified as a member of the Ornithopoda subgroup Styracosterna. Its discovery could help shed light on the evolution of the Hadrosauroidea – the duck-billed dinosaurs, from other large-bodied dinosaurs more closely related to the iguanodontids.

Portellsaurus sosbaynati life reconstruction
A life reconstruction of the newly described Spanish styracosternan hadrosauroid named Portellsaurus sosbaynati. Picture credit: Universitat Jaume I.

Portellsaurus sosbaynati

The fossil material, consisting of a right dentary (lower jawbone), specimen number MQ98-II-1, comes from Mirambell Formation exposures at a site near Mas de Curolles, Portell, Castellón (Spain). The fossil is around 129-130 million years old (Barremian faunal stage of the Early Cretaceous). The strata represent a shallow lagoon and although no other fossil material has been described, unique characteristics associated with the dentary combined with the fossil’s geological age, permitted the research team to erect a new genus of herbivorous dinosaur.

Views of the right dentary of Portellsaurus
View of the right dentary (MQ98-II-1) of Portellsaurus sosbaynati. Labial (A), lingual (B), and occlusal (C) views. (D) Enlargement (2x) of a dental crown fragment at the tooth row. Note scale bar = 10 cm. Picture credit: Santos-Cubedo et al.

Writing in the on-line academic journal PLoS One, the researchers from Universitat Jaume I, Grup Guix and Valencia University, conclude that Portellsaurus is closely related to Ouranosaurus (O. nigeriensis) from Africa and Bolong (B. yixianensis) from north-eastern China.

Based on comparisons with other fossil material from other better-known iguanodontids and hadrosauroids, the scientists estimate that Portellsaurus could have been up to 8 metres long. The genus name for this new Spanish dinosaur honours the town of Portell, whilst the trivial name honours Vicente Sos Baynat, a Spanish geologist born in Castelló de la Plana and the first scientist to be awarded the accolade of honorary doctorate by the Universitat Jaume I.

Time-calibrated phylogeny of Portellsaurus sosbaynati.
Time-calibrated phylogeny of Portellsaurus sosbaynati. This analysis suggests that this Spanish styracosternan hadrosauroid was closely related to Ouranosaurus from Africa and Bolong from China. Picture credit: Santos-Cubedo et al.

Not Closely Related to Other Large-bodied Iberian Ornithopods

In addition, the scientists including corresponding author Andrés Santos-Cubedo (Universitat Jaume I), conclude that Portellsaurus sosbaynati is less closely related to other Iberian taxa such as Iguanodon bernissartensis and Proa valdearinnoensis than it is to the other Early Cretaceous Iberian styracosternans Mantellisaurus atherfieldensis and Morelladon beltrani, although Portellsaurus is geologically several million years older than both Mantellisaurus and Morelladon.

The scientific paper: “A new styracosternan hadrosauroid (Dinosauria: Ornithischia) from the Early Cretaceous of Portell, Spain” by Andrés Santos-Cubedo, Carlos de Santisteban, Begoña Poza and Sergi Meseguer published in PLoS One.

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