Temporal range: Middle Toarcian, 179 Ma
Berberosaurus life restoration 2019.jpg
Life restoration and size comparison
Scientific classification edit
Kingdom: Animalia
Phylum: Chordata
Clade: Dinosauria
Clade: Saurischia
Clade: Theropoda
Clade: Averostra
Clade: Ceratosauria
Genus: Berberosaurus
B. liassicus
Binomial name
Berberosaurus liassicus
Allain et al., 2007

Berbesaurus Torices et al., 2012 (lapsus calami)[1]

Berberosaurus (meaning "Berber lizard", in reference to the Berbers of Morocco) is a genus of neotheropod dinosaur, possibly a ceratosaur, from the Middle Toarcian-age Lower Jurassic Azilal Formation found in the High Atlas of Toundoute, Ouarzazate, Morocco. The type species of the genus Berberosaurus is B. liassicus, in reference to the Lias epoch. Berberosaurus might be the oldest known ceratosaur, and is based on partial postcranial remains.


Ronan Allain and colleagues, who described Berberosaurus, performed a phylogenetic analysis and found their new genus to be the most basal known abelisauroid, more derived than Elaphrosaurus, Ceratosaurus, and Spinostropheus, but less so than Xenotarsosaurus and abelisaurians. Berberosaurus is distinguished from other theropods by anatomical details found in its vertebrae, metacarpals, and hindlimb bones. Its assignment as an abelisauroid pushes back the record of this group and shows that it had diversified by the Early Jurassic.[2] However, Carrano and Sampson (2008) found it to be a basal ceratosaur outside Neoceratosauria instead.[3] Subsequently, the analysis of Xu et al. (2009) recovered it as a dilophosaurid in unresolved polytomy with Dilophosaurus wetherilli, "Dilophosaurus" sinensis, Dracovenator and Cryolophosaurus.[4] The phylogenetic analysis performed by Ezcurra, Agnolin and Novas (2010) recovered Berberosaurus in unresolved polytomy with Ceratosaurus and Abelisauroidea,[5] while the 2018 description of the basal ceratosaur Saltriovenator places Berberosaurus as the sister taxon to that genus.[6]

Discovery and history

The remains of Berberosaurus were discovered during a series of expeditions to the High Atlas beginning in the early 2000s. It is based on an associated partial postcranial skeleton of a subadult individual cataloged in the Muséum d'Histoire Naturelle de Marrakech; bones from this skeleton include a neck vertebra, part of the sacrum, a metacarpal, a femur, and parts of a tibia and both fibulae. Part of another femur has been assigned to the genus as well. Its remains were found in bone beds in mudflow deposits. Later tectonic activity has affected the bones.[2]

Paleoecology and paleobiology

Berberosaurus, like other ceratosaurians, was a bipedal carnivore.[7] It was of moderate size; its estimated femur length of 50.5 centimetres (19.9 inches)[2] is comparable to femur lengths given by Gregory S. Paul for animals like Elaphrosaurus (52.9 cm;20.8 in)[8] and Dilophosaurus (55.0 cm;21.7 in).[9] Its remains were found with those of the early sauropod Tazoudasaurus. Also from the Early Jurassic of the High Atlas, but from another formation, are the fossils of another, smaller theropod (currently in preparation).[2] It's been estimated to be 5.1 meters (16.7 ft) long and 220 kg (485 lbs) in weight.[10]

See also


  1. ^ Torices, A. (2013). "Theropod dinosaurs from the Upper Cretaceous of the South Pyrenees Basin of Spain". Acta Palaeontologica Polonica. doi:10.4202/app.2012.0121.
  2. ^ a b c d Allain, Ronan; Tykoski, Ronald; Aquesbi, Najat; Jalil, Nour-Eddine; Monbaron, Michel; Russell, Dale; Taquet, Philippe (2007). "A basal abelisauroid from the late Early Jurassic of the High Atlas Mountains, Morocco, and the radiation of ceratosaurs" (PDF). Journal of Vertebrate Paleontology. 27 (3): 610–624. doi:10.1671/0272-4634(2007)27[610:AADTFT]2.0.CO;2.
  3. ^ Carrano & Sampson, 2008. The phylogeny of Ceratosauria (Dinosauria: Theropoda). Journal of Systematic Palaeontology. 6, 183-236.
  4. ^ Xu, X.; Clark, J.M.; Mo, J.; Choiniere, J.; Forster, C.A.; Erickson, G.M.; Hone, D.W.E.; Sullivan, C.; Eberth, D.A.; Nesbitt, S.; Zhao, Q.; Hernandez, R.; Jia, C.-K.; Han, F.-L. & Guo, Y. (2009). "A Jurassic ceratosaur from China helps clarify avian digital homologies (supplementary information)" (PDF). Nature. 459 (7249): 940–944. doi:10.1038/nature08124. PMID 19536256.
  5. ^ Ezcurra, M.D.; Agnolin, F.L.; Novas, F.E. (2010). "An abelisauroid dinosaur with a non-atrophied manus from the Late Cretaceous Pari Aike Formation of southern Patagonia" (PDF). Zootaxa. 2450: 1–25. doi:10.11646/zootaxa.2450.1.1.
  6. ^
  7. ^ Tykoski, Ronald B.; Rowe, Timothy (2004). "Ceratosauria". In Weishampel, David B.; Dodson, Peter; Osmólska, Halszka (eds.). The Dinosauria (Second ed.). Berkeley: University of California Press. pp. 47–70. ISBN 0-520-24209-2.
  8. ^ Paul, Gregory S. (1988). Predatory Dinosaurs of the World. New York: Simon & Schuster. pp. 266. ISBN 0-671-61946-2.
  9. ^ Paul, Gregory S. (1988). Predatory Dinosaurs of the World. 268.
  10. ^ Molina-Pérez & Larramendi (2016). Récords y curiosidades de los dinosaurios Terópodos y otros dinosauromorfos. Barcelona, Spain: Larousse. p. 255.