A revision of the early neotheropod genus Sarcosaurus from the Early Jurassic (Hettangian–Sinemurian) of central England

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  • Martin Ezcurra
  • Susannah Maidment
  • Jonathan Radley


Neotheropoda represents the main evolutionary radiation of predatory dinosaurs and its oldest records come from Upper Triassic rocks (ca. 219 Mya). The Early Jurassic record of Neotheropoda is taxonomically richer and geographically more widespread than that of the Late Triassic. The Lower Jurassic (upper Hettangian–lower Sinemurian) rocks of central England have yielded three neotheropod specimens that have been assigned to two species within the genus Sarcosaurus, S. woodi (type species) and S. andrewsi. These species have received little attention in discussions of the early evolution of Neotheropoda, and recently have been considered as nomina dubia. Here, we provide a detailed redescription of one of these specimens (WARMS G667–690) and reassess the taxonomy and phylogenetic relationships of the genus Sarcosaurus. We propose that the three neotheropod specimens from the Early Jurassic of central England represent a single valid species, S. woodi., and the second species of the genus, ‘S. andrewsi’, is a subjective junior synonym of the former. A quantitative phylogenetic analysis of early theropods recovered S. woodi as one of the closest sister taxa to Averostra and provides new information on the sequence of character state transformations in the lead up to the phylogenetic split between Ceratosauria and Tetanurae.


Original languageEnglish
Article numberzlaa054
Number of pages37
JournalZoological Journal of the Linnean Society
Early online date23 Jun 2020
Publication statusE-pub ahead of print - 23 Jun 2020