Evolution of near-sauropods and early sauropod dinosaurs from Gondwana

Researcher biography

Jay Nair’s PhD research investigates the anatomy, as well as consequential phylogenetic implications, of near-sauropods and early sauropod dinosaurs that inhabited the southern continents between 220–165 million years ago. The first part of this project has allowed Jay to spend time in collections abroad to research key materials of near-sauropods in various collections in South Africa, a hotspot for work on these animals. For this work, Jay has been collaborating with Dr. Adam Yates (Bernard Price Institute, Johannesburg, now at the Museum of Central Australia, Alice Springs); Jay plans to continue venturing abroad to consult on additional crucial specimens of near-sauropods during the course of his PhD work.

Locally, Jay is working on an osteological study of one of Australia’s iconic dinosaurs, the titan Rhoetosaurus brownei. The type and only known specimen of Rhoetosaurus is from the Middle Jurassic of Injune, southern western Queensland and it is perhaps Australia’s earliest articulated dinosaur specimen. After its discovery in the 1920’s and subsequent study by one of the forefathers of Queensland vertebrate palaeontology, Heber Longman not long after, Rhoetosaurus remained dormant until field exploration in the 1970s recovered more of its skeleton. Jay’s ongoing research of these materials suggests so much more information about Rhoetosaurus could be yielded, and to this end has been working closely with Queensland Museum staff toward the further preparation of key specimens.

Jay joined the Vertebrate Palaeontology and Biomechanics Lab in 2007 as an Honours student. His project then involved describing and interpreting the lower hind limb of Rhoetosaurus, a specimen that was recovered in the 1970s (Nair and Salisbury, 2012) – an undertaking that underpins the present reappraisal of the entire specimen.

Australia's first named dinosaur puts its best foot forward (media release)

The image above shows Jay with the closest thing he can find today to the foot of Rhoetosaurus... Photo Steve Salisbury.

Peer-reviewed journal publications

Herne, M.C., Tait, A.M., Weisbecker, V., Hall, M., Nair, J.P., Cleeland, M. and Salisbury, S.W. 2018. A new small-bodied ornithopod (Dinosauria, Ornithischia) from a deep, high-energy Early Cretaceous river of the Australian-Antarctic rift system. Peer J, 5:e4113.

Herne, M.C., Nair, J.P. and Salisbury, S.W.  2010.  Comment on "A Southern Tyrant Reptile".  Science, 329, 1013-c, doi:10.1126/science.1190100. pdf

Nair, J.P. and Salisbury, S.W. 2012. New anatomical information on Rhoetosaurus brownei Longman, 1926, a gravisaurian sauropodomorph dinosaur from the Middle Jurassic of Queensland, Australia. Journal of Vertebrate Paleontology 32(2), 369–394. pdf + SIMorphoBank 

Conference abstracts

Nair, J.P. and Salisbury, S.W. 2007.  Osteology and biomechanics of the crus and pes in Rhoetosaurus brownei Longman (Dinosauria: Sauropoda) from the Middle Jurassic Injune Creek Group of Roma, south-western Queensland.  2007. In Warren, A. (ed), Conference on Australian Vertebrate Evolution, Palaeontology and Systematics, 2007.Geological Society of Australia, Abstracts 85: 58.

Nair, J.P. and Salisbury, S.W., 2009. New anatomical information on Rhoetosaurus brownei (Dinosauria: Eusauropoda), from the Jurassic Injune Creek Group, near Roma, Queensland, Australia. In: K.J. Travuillon, T.H. Worthy, S.J. Hand and P. Creaser (Editors), Conference on Australian Vertebrate Evolution, Palaeontology and Systematics, 2009. Geological Society of Australia, Abstracts 93: 76.

Nair, J. and Yates, A. 2014. Osteology of the type material of Melanosaurus readi, a 'near sauropod' (Dinosauria: Sauropodamorpha) from the Upper Triassic Lower Elliot Formation of South Africa, and the status of referred specimens. Journal of Vertebrate Paleontology, Program and Abstracts, 2014, 193–194.

Romilio, A., Salisbury, S.W. and Nair, J.P. 2014. Ichnological evidence for diverse pedal postures in ornithopodan dinosaurs. Journal of Vertebrate Paleontology, Program and Abstracts, 2014, 216.

Salisbury, S.W., Romilio, A., Herne, M.C., Tucker, R.T. and Nair, J.P. 2014. The Early Cretaceous dinosaurian ichnofauna of the Broome Sandstone from the Walmadany area (James Price Point) of the Dampier Peninsula, Western Australia. Journal of Vertebrate Paleontology, Program and Abstracts, 2014, 219.

Honours thesis

Jay examines an articulated skeleton of the near-sauropod Melanorosaurus readi (ground) under the early sauropod Antetonitrus ingenipes (mounted). Photo by Elize Butler, Nationale Museum, Bloemfontein, South Africa.

Nair, J.P. 2007. New osteological information on the Jurassic sauropod dinosaur Rhoetosaurus brownei, with discussion of its phylogeny and pedal biomechanics.  Unpublished Honours Thesis, School of Biological Sciences, The University of Queensland. 80pp.