STL Science Center

STL Science Center

21 January 2015

Welcome to Salta

The amazing find of a titanosaurid sauropod with osteoderms growing along the length of its back would cause the assumption that its generic name would refer directly to those osteoderms. Instead, the specific epithet does refer to those osteoderms (loricatus means armored) while the generic name referred to the town (Salta) in the Lerma Valley of Argentina nearest to the dig site that turned up those osteoderms and the other high quality fossils included in the original description. A lesser known importance of Saltasaurus is its impact on the ever changing perceptions of the world of paleontology. Saltasaurus was name and described during a time in which it was becoming readily clear that sauropods still maintained a dominance in the southern half of the world as the largest group of herbivores. In other parts of the world sauropods had clearly been replaced by better adapted herbivores and as these were the most collected areas of the world it was assumed by many, if not all paleontologists at one point, that sauropods had declined in the non-collected areas as well. The discoveries of Saltasaurus and many other sauropods in the last 30 years in the southern half of the globe has, and still is, turned those assumptions completely upside down and repainted the Cretaceous world completely. Thankfully. It is a wonderful dinosaur and a wonderful world that it once lived in.

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