Temporal range: Early Jurassic, Sinemurian
800px-Saltriovenator elements.png
Selected elements of the holotype
Scientific classification
Kingdom: Animalia
Phylum: Chordata
Class: Sauropsida
Order: Saurischia
Suborder: Theropoda
Family: Ceratosauridae
Genus: Saltriovenator
Dal Sasso et al., 2018
Referred species
  • Saltriovenator zanellai
    (Dal Sasso et al., 2018)

Saltriovenator (meaning "Saltrio hunter") is a genus of ceratosaurian dinosaur that lived during the Sinemurian stage of the Early Jurassic in what is now Italy. The type and only species is Saltriovenator zanellai; in the past, the species had been known under the informal name "Saltriosauro". Although a full skeleton has not yet been discovered, Saltriovenator is thought to have been a large, bipedal carnivore similar to Ceratosaurus.

Discovery and naming

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The classification of Saltriovenator within theropoda

On 4 August 1996, the first remains of Saltriovenator were discovered by Angelo Zanella in a marble quarry in Saltrio, northern Italy. The individual likely died on the shores of an ancient beach before being washed out to sea. About 10% of the skeleton has been discovered, including a tooth, a right splenial, a right prearticular, a neck rib, fragments of the dorsal ribs and scapulae, a well preserved but incomplete furcula, humeri, metacarpal II, phalanx II-1, phalanx III-1, phalanx III-2, manual ungual III, a distal tarsal III, a distal tarsal IV and the proximal second to fifth metatarsals. Initially, 119 bone fragments were reported to have been collected in total;[1][2] this was later increased to 132. However, most cannot be exactly identified.[3] After death, the skeletal remains suffered from prolonged transport, during which many bones were lost. Although Saltriovenator was not aquatic, the environment in which the carcass was deposited was likely pelagic, judging by the associated ammonites. The locality is also rich in crinoids, gastropods, bivalves, brachiopods and bryozoans. (Lualdi, 1999) Deposition occurred on a slope between a shallow carbonate platform and a deeper basin. Various scratches, grooves, and striations indicate that the carcass was subject to scavenging by marine invertebrates.[3] The skeleton had shortly before its discovery been blown to pieces by the explosives used to break the marble layers. Blocks that had been salvaged were for 1800 hours inserted into a bath of formic acid to free the bones.[3]

In December 2018, Dal Sasso and colleagues described the specimen as Saltriovenator zanellai, the specific name honouring Zanella.[3]


The precise systematic position of Saltriovenator has been traditionally uncertain, but it is known to be a theropod.[1][2] Dal Sasso originally referred it to the Tetanurae[4] He later considered that it may represent an allosauroid, although in either case it would predate other members of the clades by roughly 20-30 million years.[5] Benson considered it a member of Coelophysoidea in his review of Magnosaurus.[6][7] The presence of a wishbone[5] may support its placement as a tetanuran, although wishbones have been reported from coelophysoids.[8][9]

The 2018 description paper ran a large phylogenetic analysis, and found it to be a basal ceratosaur, closely related to Berberosaurus.[3]



  1. 1.0 1.1 The Theropod Database
  2. 2.0 2.1 Matthew T. Carrano, Roger B. J. Benson, Scott D. Sampson: The phylogeny of Tetanurae (Dinosauria: Theropoda). Journal of Systematic Palaeontology. Bd. 10, Nr. 2, 2012
  3. 3.0 3.1 3.2 3.3 3.4 (2018) "The oldest ceratosaurian (Dinosauria: Theropoda), from the Lower Jurassic of Italy, sheds light on the evolution of the three-fingered hand of birds". PeerJ 6 (e5976). DOI:10.7717/peerj.5976. 
  4. Cristiano Dal Sasso: Dinosauri italiani. Marsilio Editori, Venezia, 2001.
  5. 5.0 5.1 Cristiano Dal Sasso: Dinosaurs of Italy. In: Comptes Rendus Palevol. Bd. 2, Nr. 1, 2003.
  6. Roger B. J. Benson: The osteology of Magnosaurus nethercombensis (Dinosauria, Theropoda) from the Bajocian (Middle Jurassic) of the United Kingdom and a re-examination of the oldest records of tetanurans. In: Journal of Systematic Palaeontology. Bd. 8, Nr. 1, 2010, S. 131–146
  7. Oliver W. M. Rauhut: The interrelationships and evolution of basal theropod dinosaurs (= Special Papers in Palaeontology. Bd. 69). The Palaeontological Association, London 2003
  8. Larry F. Rinehart, Spencer G. Lucas, Adrian P. Hunt: Furculae in the Late Triassic theropod dinosaur Coelophysis. In: Paläontologische Zeitschrift. Bd. 81, Nr. 2, 2007]
  9. Ronald S. Tykoski, Catherine A. Forster, Timothy Rowe, Scott D. Sampson, Darlington Munyikwa: A furcula in the coelophysoid theropod Syntarsus. In: Journal of Vertebrate Paleontology. Bd. 22, Nr. 3, 2002
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