Place: Quiricó Formation, near Coração de Jesus, Minas Gerais State;
Time: Early Cretaceous - Aptian;
Etymology: From ‘‘Tapuia’’, a generic name from the Jês indigenous language family used to designate tribes that inhabited the inner regions of Brazil, and sauros, Greek for lizard. The
specific name honors Ubirajara Alves Macedo, who first discovered the deposits near Coração de Jesus.
2011 A Complete Skull of an Early Cretaceous Sauropod and the Evolution of Advanced Titanosaurians. PLoS ONE 6(2): e16663. doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0016663
Advanced titanosaurian sauropods, such as nemegtosaurids and saltasaurids, were diverse and one of the most important groups of herbivores in the terrestrial biotas of the Late Cretaceous. However, little is known about their rise and diversification prior to the Late Cretaceous. Furthermore, the evolution of their highly-modified skull anatomy has been largely hindered by the scarcity of well-preserved cranial remains. A new sauropod dinosaur from the Early Cretaceous of Brazil represents the earliest advanced titanosaurian known to date, demonstrating that the initial diversification of advanced titanosaurians was well under way at least 30 million years before their known radiation in the latest Cretaceous. The new taxon also preserves the most complete skull among titanosaurians, further revealing that their low and elongated diplodocid-like skull morphology appeared much earlier than previously thought.