The appendicular skeleton of Rinconsaurus caudamirus (Sauropoda: Titanosauria) from the Upper Cretaceous of Patagonia, Argentina
AGUSTÍN PÉREZ MORENO; ALEJANDRO OTERO; CARBALLIDO, JOSÉ L.; LEONARDO SALGADO; JORGE CALVO
CRETACEOUS RESEARCH (PRINT)
ACADEMIC PRESS LTD-ELSEVIER SCIENCE LTD
Lugar: Amsterdam; Año: 2022
Rinconsaurus caudamirus, from the Bajo de la Carpa Formation (Santonian), Río Negro, Argentina, is represented by several axial and appendicular elements from, at least, four specimens. The axial skeleton of this taxon was described in detail in a recent contribution, pending a complete analysis and description of its appendicular skeleton. This contribution focuses on the description of the appendicular skeleton of Rinconsaurus and its phylogenetic relationships, considering the new information provided here. Rinconsaurus clearly differs from other titanosaurs for the presence of several autapomorphic characters and for a unique association of characters, some of which are also present in lognkosaurians, aeolosaurines and saltasaurines titanosaurs, and by having a scapula with a scapular blade angled 65° with respect to the coracoid articulation, similar to that of Bellusaurus, Dreadnoughtus and Muyelensaurus. Equations for estimating body mass in sauropods based on long bone circumference suggest a body mass of at least 3-5 tonnes for the largest individuals of Rinconsaurus, being lighter than saltasaurines, but heavier than aeolosaurines. Rinconsaurus was incorporated into an expanded version of a phylogenetic data matrix along with several ontemporary South American titanosaurs. The resulting data matrix comprises 102 taxa scored for 431 characters, and our phylogenetic analysis retrieves Rinconsaurus as a member of the clade Rinconsauria. For its part, the clade Rinconsauria, in which Aeolosaurini is nested, is recovered within a diverse Lognkosauria. When the resulting trees are time calibrated and taking into account the position of Ninjatitan within Rinconsauria, there results that the possible origin of the clades Lognkosauria and Rinconsauria (among other titanosaur clades) could have occurred towards the beginning of the Early Cretaceous.