Silutitan sinensis and Hamititan xinjiangensis: Two New Species of Sauropod Dinosaurs Unearthed in China

Tuesday, August 17, 2021

Life reconstruction of Silutitan sinensis (left) and Hamititan xinjiangensis (right). Image credit: Chuang Zhao & Xiaolin Wang.

Paleontologists have identified two new species of giant herbivorous dinosaurs from fossils found in the Turpan-Hami Basin, Xinjiang, northwestern China.

The two new dinosaurs lived in what is now China during the Early Cretaceous period, between 130 and 120 million years ago.

Dubbed Silutitan sinensis and Hamititan xinjiangensis, they were about 20 m and 17 m (66 and 56 feet) long, respectively.

Both species belong to Somphospondyli, a large clade of titanosauriform sauropods that lived from the Late Jurassic until the end of the Late Cretaceous.

“This is the first time that somphospondylans have been reported from the Early Cretaceous of Xinjiang,” said Dr. Xiaolin Wang from the Institute of Vertebrate Paleontology and Paleoanthropology of the Chinese Academy of Sciences and colleagues.

“They are also the first dinosaurs reported from the Hami Pterosaur Fauna, the largest and most abundant pterosaur fossil locality in the world.”

The fossils of Silutitan sinensis and Hamititan xinjiangensis were recovered from the Lower Cretaceous Shengjinkou Formation.

“The first consists of an articulated middle to posterior cervical vertebrae series,” the paleontologists said.

“The second consists of an incomplete articulated caudal sequence that could be assigned to lithostrotian titanosaurs based on the strongly procoelous caudal vertebrae with lateral concave surface, as well as marked ventrolateral ridges.”

The researchers also found four vertebrae and rib fragments from a third, yet-undescribed species of somphospondylan sauropod dinosaur.

Additionally, they found a small tooth of carnivorous theropod dinosaur near the fossilized remains of Hamititan xinjiangensis.

“It is the first report of a theropod dinosaur discovered in this area,” they said.

“Because no tooth mark was found on any of the vertebra of Hamititan xinjiangensis, it is uncertain whether this theropod could have fed on sauropods’ carcasses.”

paper on the findings was published in the journal Scientific Reports.


X. Wang et al. The first dinosaurs from the Early Cretaceous Hami Pterosaur Fauna, China. Sci Rep 11, 14962; doi: 10.1038/s41598-021-94273-7