|Reconstructed skeleton of a juvenile Moabosaurus utahensis|
Brit et,. al, 2017
Britt et., al
Moabosaurus (meaning "Moab reptile") is a genus of titanosauriform sauropod dinosaur from the Early Cretaceous Cedar Mountain Formation of Utah, United States.
Moabosaurus is characterized by a suite of features including: extremely low neural spines that are thin, transverse ridges in the posterior cervical vertebrae and anterior dorsal vertebrae; strongly procoelous proximal and distal caudal vertebrae; and an ulna with well-developed lateral and medial anteroproximal ridges combined with a large olecranon process. According to paleontologist, Brooks Britts, the braincase of this sauropod held a very small brain, in comparable size to a Chinese eggroll. As an estimate the overall length of Moabosaurus suggests it was around 12m (40ft). The front limbs of the dinosaur very short in contrast to much larger sauropods with exception of Camarasauridae and Brachiosauridae groups.
Discovery and naming
Moabosaurus was collected from the Dalton Wells Quarry, which is about 20 km northwest of Moab, Utah. The quarry produced parts of at least 18 individuals of Moabosaurus based on the number of braincases present, totalling over 5,500 bones. Many of the recovered bones are fragmentary due to intense trampling as evidenced by breakage and trample scratches. Another factor that degraded the bones before burial was consumption by insects. Insects, probably beetle larvae, consumed portions of the bones that were in contact with the ground, as evidenced by burrows and mandible marks. Later, the bones were transported a short distance by a stream and buried in sediments reworked from the underlying Morrison Formation. Detrital zircon crystals from the Dalton Wells Quarry yield an age of 125 million years, indicating Moabosaurus is Aptian in age.
The Dalton Wells quarry has also yielded specimens of Venenosaurus (a brachiosaurid sauropod), the theropod dinosaurs Utahraptor and Nedcolbertia, plus a tall-spined iguanodontian, and the ankylosaurian Gastonia. Non-dinosaurian taxa are rare at the quarry and are limited to fragments of a pterosaur, crocodilian, turtle, and a neochoristodere (a crocodile-like reptile). In the Aptian (125 Ma), the biome environment of Dalton Wells quarry was arid, specifically something similar to a semidesert or steppe environment. Temperature climates were likely hot, and humid as at this time, the state Utah was enriched with large bodies of water. In similarity to most environments akin from the Late Jurassic, dinosaurs such Moabosaurus adapted a similar niche, filling in the role of the previous Camarasaurus.
Among the 5,500 bones numerous teeth from Moabosaurus were pulled from the Dalton Wells quarry. Unlike in most turiasaurs, which were known for their heart-shaped teeth, the tooth crowns were spatulate-like resembling that of a spoon or shovel. Based on the evidence, this indicated Moabosaurus were suited for high-browsing life-style, consuming the confifers that flourished the arid ecosystem.