Saturnalia tupiniquim, an early saurischian

Saturnalia tupiniquim was an early saurischian dinosaur, most likely belonging to Sauropodomorpha, the clade that included sauropods, the largest land vertebrates to ever roam the Earth, and their kin. Saturnalia lived during the Late Triassic, some 230 million years ago, in what is now Rio Grande do Sul, southern Brazil.

Unlike its more popular relatives, Saturnalia tupiniquim was a small dinosaur. It was approximately 1.5 m (5 feet) long. Some studies suggest that Saturnalia belonged to an early group of sauropodomorphs named Guaibasauridae, within which it was most closely related to Chromogisaurus novasi. The group Guaibasauridae originated shortly after sauropodomorphs and theropods separated from their last common ancestor. As such, its members share many features present in both these branches of saurischian dinosaurs.

Other studies don’t recognize Guaibasauridae and suggest that this grouping is not based on real evolutionary relationships. According to this hypothesis, Saturnalia and Chromogisaurus form an early evolutionary branch of sauropodomorphs.

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