Christiansen N.A.,Museu da Lourinha |
Tschopp E.,New University of Lisbon
Swiss Journal of Geosciences | Year: 2010
Dinosaur skin impressions are rare in the Upper Jurassic Morrison Formation, but different sites on the Howe Ranch in Wyoming (USA), comprising specimens from diplodocid, camarasaurid, allosaurid and stegosaurian dinosaurs, have proven to be a treasure-trove for these soft-tissue remains. Here we describe stegosaurian skin impressions from North America for the first time, as well as the first case of preservation of an impression of the integument that covered the dorsal plates of stegosaurian dinosaurs in life. Both have been found closely associated with bones of a specimen of the stegosaurian Hesperosaurus mjosi Carpenter, Miles and Cloward 2001. The scales of the skin impression of H. mjosi are very similar in shape and arrangement to those of Gigantspinosaurus sichuanensis Ouyang 1992, the only other stegosaurian dinosaur from which skin impressions have been described. Both taxa show a ground pattern of small polygonal scales, which in some places is interrupted by larger oval tubercles surrounded by the small scales, resulting in rosette-like structures. The respective phylogenetic positions of G. sichuanensis as a basal stegosaurian and H. mjosi as a derived form suggest that most stegosaurians had very similar skin structures, which also match the most common textures known in dinosaurs. The integumentary impression from the dorsal plate brings new data to the long-lasting debate concerning the function of dorsal plates in stegosaurian dinosaurs. Unlike usual dinosaur skin impressions, the integument covering the dorsal plates does not show any scale-like texture. It is smooth with long and parallel, shallow grooves, a structure that is interpreted as representing a keratinous covering of the plates. The presence of such a keratinous covering has affects on all the existing theories concerning the function of stegosaurian plates, including defense, thermoregulation, and display, but does not permit to rule out any of them. © 2010 Swiss Geological Society.
Castanhinha R.,Instituto Gulbenkian Of Ciencia |
Araujo R.,Museu da Lourinha |
Araujo R.,Southern Methodist University |
Junior L.C.,Museu Nacional de Geologia |
And 9 more authors.
PLoS ONE | Year: 2013
Dicynodontia represent the most diverse tetrapod group during the Late Permian. They survived the Permo-Triassic extinction and are central to understanding Permo-Triassic terrestrial ecosystems. Although extensively studied, several aspects of dicynodont paleobiology such as, neuroanatomy, inner ear morphology and internal cranial anatomy remain obscure. Here we describe a new dicynodont (Therapsida, Anomodontia) from northern Mozambique: Niassodon mfumukasi gen. et sp. nov. The holotype ML1620 was collected from the Late Permian K5 formation, Metangula Graben, Niassa Province northern Mozambique, an almost completely unexplored basin and country for vertebrate paleontology. Synchrotron radiation based micro-computed tomography (SRμCT), combined with a phylogenetic analysis, demonstrates a set of characters shared with Emydopoidea. All individual bones were digitally segmented allowing a 3D visualization of each element. In addition, we reconstructed the osseous labyrinth, endocast, cranial nerves and vasculature. The brain is narrow and the cerebellum is broader than the forebrain, resembling the conservative, "reptilian-grade" morphology of other non-mammalian therapsids, but the enlarged paraflocculi occupy the same relative volume as in birds. The orientation of the horizontal semicircular canals indicates a slightly more dorsally tilted head posture than previously assumed in other dicynodonts. In addition, synchrotron data shows a secondary center of ossification in the femur. Thus ML1620 represents, to our knowledge, the oldest fossil evidence of a secondary center of ossification, pushing back the evolutionary origins of this feature. The fact that the specimen represents a new species indicates that the Late Permian tetrapod fauna of east Africa is still incompletely known. © 2013 Castanhinha et al.
Smith A.S.,Thinktank |
Mateus O.,Museu da Lourinha |
Mateus O.,New University of Lisbon
Acta Palaeontologica Polonica | Year: 2012
A partial plesiosauroid skull from the São Gião Formation (Toarcian, Lower Jurassic) of Alhadas, Portugal is re-evaluated and described as a new taxon, Lusonectes sauvagei gen. et sp. nov. It has a single autapomorphy, a broad triangular parasphenoid cultriform process that is as long as the posterior interpterygoid vacuities, and also a unique character combination, including a jugal that contacts the orbital margin, a distinct parasphenoid-basisphenoid suture exposed between the posterior interpterygoid vacuities, lack of an anterior interpterygoid vacuity, and striations on the ventral surface of the pterygoids. Phylogenetic analysis of Jurassic plesiosauroids places Lusonectes as outgroup to "microcleidid elasmosaurs", equivalent to the clade Plesiosauridae. Lusonectes sauvagei is the only diagnostic plesiosaur from Portugal, and the westernmost occurrence of any plesiosaurian in Europe.
Mateus O.,New University of Lisbon |
Araujo R.,Museu da Lourinha |
Natario C.,Museu da Lourinha |
Castanhinha R.,Museu da Lourinha |
Castanhinha R.,Instituto Gulbenkian Of Ciencia
Zootaxa | Year: 2011
Although the Late Jurassic of Portugal has provided abundant dinosaur fossils, material from the Early Cretaceous is scarce. This paper reports new cranial and postcranial material of the theropod dinosaur Baryonyx walkeri found in the Barremian (Papo Seco Formation) of Portugal. This specimen, found at Praia das Aguncheiras, Cabo Espichel, consists of a partial dentary, isolated teeth, pedal ungual, two calcanea, presacral and caudal vertebrae, fragmentary pubis, scapula, and rib fragments. It represents the most complete spinosaurid yet discovered in the Iberian Peninsula and the most complete dinosaur from the Early Cretaceous of Portugal. This specimen is confidently identified as a member of Baryonychinae due to the presence of conical teeth with flutes and denticles in a dentary rosette. The specimen ML1190 shares the following characteristics with Baryonyx walkeri: enamel surface with small (nearly vertical) wrinkles, variable denticle size along the carinae, 6-7 denticles per mm, wrinkles forming a 45 degree angle near the carinae, and tooth root longer than crown. In addition, dubious taxa based on teeth morphology such as Suchosaurus cultridens (Owen, 1840-1845), and Suchosaurus girardi (Sauvage 1897-98; Antunes & Mateus 2003) are discussed, based on comparisons with well-known material such as Baryonyx walkeri Charig & Milner, 1986. Suchosaurus cultridens and S. girardi are considered as nomina dubia due to the lack of diagnostic apomorphies, but both specimens are referred to Baryonychinae incertae sedis. Copyright © 2011 Magnolia Press.
Polcyn M.J.,Southern Methodist University |
Jacobs L.L.,Southern Methodist University |
Araujo R.,Southern Methodist University |
Schulp A.S.,Natuurhistorisch Museum Maastricht |
And 3 more authors.
Palaeogeography, Palaeoclimatology, Palaeoecology | Year: 2014
Mosasaurs are marine squamates with a 32.5. million-year history from their appearance at 98. Ma to their extinction at the K-Pg boundary (65.5. Ma). Using a database of 43 generic and 94 species-level taxa, we compare the taxonomic diversity and patterns of morphological disparity in mosasaurs with sea level, sea surface temperature, and stable carbon isotope curves for the Upper Cretaceous to explore factors that may have influenced their evolution. No single factor unambiguously accounts for all radiations, diversification, and extinctions; however, the broader patterns of taxonomic diversification and morphological disparity point to niche differentiation in a "fishing up" scenario under the influence of "bottom-up" selective pressures. The most likely driving force in mosasaur evolution was high productivity in the Late Cretaceous, driven by tectonically controlled sea levels and climatically controlled ocean stratification and nutrient delivery. When productivity collapsed at the end of the Cretaceous, coincident with bolide impact, mosasaurs became extinct. © 2013 Elsevier B.V.