The Pampadromaeus was a small bipedal dinosaur that belonged to the Alemoa member of the Santa Maria formation in Brazil. They were first described in the publication New Stem-Sauropodomorph (Dinosauria, Saurischia) as being from the Triassic of Brazil by authors Cabreira et al., 2011. The anatomy of their body was quite similar to that of Theropod dinosaurs, which were carnivorous in nature. They belonged to the later Triassic period, which dates back to about 233.23 million years ago. Their body had small heads. Their limbs were disproportionate, with their forelimbs being shorter than their hindlimbs.
The well-preserved skeleton holotype of this species, which was excavated from the Rio Grande do Sul, Brazil, comprised most of the skull bones along with the lower jaws. Dorsal, sacral, and caudal bones of the vertebrae, shoulder girdle bones as well as the bones of the hind legs were also found with this holotype specimen. The slightly pointed and elongated teeth of these early dinosaurs highlight their omnivorous diet. Owing to their small body and very little bodyweight, these dinosaurs of the early Triassic period were excellent runners with great agility. They roamed around in places with lush green vegetation filled with rivers. They preferred tropical forests and muddy environments, in which they foraged upon a variety of plants. Keep on reading to know more intriguing facts about this early dinosaur.
Pampadromaeus is pronounced pam-pa-dro-ma-i-us.
According to authors Cabreira et al. in their publication of 2011, these dinosaurs were early Sauropodomorphs under the clades Dinosauria and Saurischia. They also showed anatomical similarities with Therapods, like Lukousaurus and Deinonychus dinosaurs.
These Sauropodomorphs roamed the Earth in diverse ecosystems during the late Triassic period. Many huge predatory dinosaurs evolved from the species that existed during this era; for example, the Eoraptor that existed in the late Triassic period was a Saurischian dinosaur or a basal Sauropodomorph.
The Pampadromaeus became extinct during the Carnian age of the early Late Triassic of Brazil, about 233.23 million years ago.
Fossils of this dinosaur species of the Sauropodomorpha clade were recovered from the Alemoa member of the Santa Maria formation in southern Brazil.
According to authors Cabreira et al., the Pampadromaeus barberenai inhabited tropical forests with a wide range of trees and seeds. They preferred multiple rivers in their habitat and thrived well in muddy environments. Thus, we can conclude that these dinosaurs were present in diverse places with warm and humid climatic conditions. Limited remains of this species indicate that they were quite rare in their ecosystems.
These Sauropodomorphs mainly lived alone, and very rarely, they resided in small groups. Paleontology research results indicate that they were not herding animals. They were always on the run to escape from predators. In small groups of two to three, they used to look after each other.
We do not know the exact lifespan of this species. The Pampadromaeus was present about 233.23 million years ago, during the Triassic period. These Sauropods were linked to later predatory dinosaurs along the evolutionary line. Several characteristic traits of these dinosaurs were linked to Therapods. The ancestral Bagualosaurus and the Buriolestes, which were Sauropodomorphs as well, lived during this period. The evolution of these early dinosaurs led to the development of the much later ferocious dinosaur species of the Jurassic period.
Although we do not know the reproduction habits of this dinosaur in detail, other Sauropodomorphs from the Carnian age were egg-laying animals. Their eggs were amniotic in nature, which provided the developing embryo with all the necessary nutrients. This dinosaur group had a unique trait which was not found in other basal Sauropodomorphs. Its femur bone of the lower leg socket had a smaller ball than other species. However, the function of such a feature has not yet been described. Just like their Theropod relative, it could be a possibility that females used to protect their eggs and were territorial in nature as well.
Remains of this dinosaur species closely resemble that of Theropods. They belong to the Sauropodomorpha clade. Their skull was long and narrow with a protruded jaw. Just like Theropods, their teeth were not serrated. The head of these Carnian age dinosaurs was larger in size than that of later Sauropodomorphs. Their thigh bone or femur was shorter along with a shorter body when compared to later sauropodomorphs.
These dinosaurs had an extremely lightweight body owing to the presence of a hollow bone cavity with air sacs. This lightweight body helped them in breathing more efficiently, and therefore, these early dinosaurs were able to carry out all functions with great agility. Their slim body helped them to escape from predators almost immediately upon notice. The Pampadromaeus barberenai had a long tail with notches on it.
According to the publication by Langer, 2011, these early Sauropods showcased several ancestral traits present in the early dinosaur species. The fossil of their body anatomy mainly indicates that they were shorter dinosaurs weighing only about 5.5 lb (2.5 kg). Their limbs were disproportionate in size, and the position of the forelimbs suggests a high level of evolution in the aspect of running. According to Cabreira et al., 2011, these early dinosaurs had many predators such as the Staurikosaurus, the Buriolestes, and the Bagualosaurus that existed during this age.
There is not a record of the exact number of bones present in the Pampadromaeus barberenai. However, the fossil of the early Sauropods, which is preserved, comprises mainly the skull, a limb bone, and some other skeletal bones. Their jawbones display similar traits as jawbones of Theropods as well as ancestral Sauropods.
No record of the mode of communication of this basal dinosaur, Pampadromaeus barberenai, is available. However, we can conclude that just like early Sauropodomorphs, this animal also produced grunts and sounds.
Skeletal remains of this early Pampadromaeus barberenai suggest that their body length was about 4.9 ft (150 cm). Although the status of its height is unknown, the description given by authors Cabreira et al., 2011 highlights the fact that it was a short animal, with evolutionary links to early Sauropods. The smallest nest dinosaur was the Saturnalia of the Triassic age.
Based on the publication by Sergio Dias-da-Silva and R.T Müller, 'A Unique Late Triassic Dinosauromorph Assemblage Reveals Dinosaur Ancestral Anatomy and Diet,' on the Pampadromaeus size wildlife, we get to know that these dinosaurs were slim and extremely agile, just like the Buriolestes, which was a close relative of the Pampadromaeus. Due to their short and lightweight body, they were capable of running extremely fast and could easily escape other predatory dinosaurs of that time. The fast-running capability of this species led to their comparison with Theropod dinosaurs, like the Staurikosaurus.
This animal group was extremely light in weight and weighed only about 5.5 lb (2.5 kg). The smallest nest dinosaur was the Saturnalia. Other dinosaur species which had an evolutionary link with the Pampadromaeus were much larger in size. For example, the Apatosaurus, which belonged to the Dinosauria clade, weighed about 17.6-22 ton (16,000-20,000 kg).
No specific names were given to males and females of this dinosaur species.
A baby Pampadromaeus can be called a hatchling or a nestling, as they reproduced by laying eggs.
They were omnivorous in nature, according to the publication by da Silva and R.T Müller, 'A Unique Late Triassic Dinosauromorph Assemblage Reveals Dinosaur Ancestral Anatomy and Diet', on the Pampadromaeus wildlife. The skull, jawbones, and the position of their teeth suggest that they foraged on a variety of seeds and other plant material from forests. This group of dinosaurs was also largely dependent on animal material and preyed on several small animals. Paleontologists described them to be not picky about their food at all.
This group of dinosaurs was skittish in nature, and thus, they were always on the run to escape from predators. Therefore, we can conclude that they were not aggressive. However, considering their omnivorous diet, they were capable of hunting down smaller animals quite viciously.
The name Pampadromaeus was first coined by the authors Cabreira, Schultz, Bittencourt, and Soares, along with others, in their 2011 publication. This name means runner from the plains.
Their jaw may have contained four premaxillary teeth and 20 maxillary in both the upper and lower jaws.
The Pampadromaeus prehistoric wildlife records suggest that they were solitary animals and were seen in very small groups during hunting, where they kept an eye on each other's backs.
Their disproportionate limbs and shorter body with hollow bones made it possible for this group of dinosaurs to run extremely fast and escape from their predators.
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Main image by IJReid
Second image by Maurissauro