Rodolfo A. Coria and Philip J. Currie

A skeleton discovered in the Upper Cretaceous Sierra Barrosa Formation (Turonian-Coniacian) of Neuquén Province, Argentina represents a new species of theropod dinosaur related to the long snouted, highly pneumatized Megaraptoridae. The holotype specimen of Murusraptor barrosaensis n.gen et n.sp. includes much of the skull, axial skeleton, pelvis and tibia. Murusraptor is unique in having several diagnostic features that include anterodorsal process of lacrimal longer than height of preorbital process, and a thick, shelf-like thickening on the lateral surface of surangular ventral to the groove between the anterior surangular foramen and the insert for the uppermost intramandibular process of the dentary. Other characteristic features of Murusraptor barrosaensis n.gen. et n. sp. include a large mandibular fenestra, distal ends of caudal neural spines laterally thickened into lateral knob-like processes, short ischia distally flattened and slightly expanded dorsoventrally. Murusraptor belongs to a Patagonian radiation of megaraptorids together with Aerosteon, Megaraptor and Orkoraptor. In spite being immature, it is a larger but more gracile animal than existing specimens of Megaraptor, and is comparable in size with Aerosteon and Orkoraptor. The controversial phylogeny of the Megaraptoridae as members of the Allosauroidea or a clade of Coelurosauria is considered analyzing two alternative data sets.

Coria RA, Currie PJ (2016) A New Megaraptoran Dinosaur (Dinosauria, Theropoda, Megaraptoridae) from the Late Cretaceous of Patagonia. PLoS ONE 11(7): e0157973. doi:10.1371/ journal.pone.0157973


Sebastián Apesteguía, Nathan D. Smith, Rubén Juárez Valieri, Peter J. Makovicky

Late Cretaceous terrestrial strata of the Neuquén Basin, northern Patagonia, Argentina have yielded a rich fauna of dinosaurs and other vertebrates. The diversity of saurischian dinosaurs is particularly high, especially in the late Cenomanian-early Turonian Huincul Formation, which has yielded specimens of rebacchisaurid and titanosaurian sauropods, and abelisaurid and carcharodontosaurid theropods. Continued sampling is adding to the known vertebrate diversity of this unit.

A new, partially articulated mid-sized theropod was found in rocks from the Huincul Formation. It exhibits a unique combination of traits that distinguish it from other known theropods justifying erection of a new taxon, Gualicho shinyae gen. et sp. nov. Gualicho possesses a didactyl manus with the third digit reduced to a metacarpal splint reminiscent of tyrannosaurids, but both phylogenetic and multivariate analyses indicate that didactyly is convergent in these groups. Derived characters of the scapula, femur, and fibula supports the new theropod as the sister taxon of the nearly coeval African theropod Deltadromeus and as a neovenatorid carcharodontosaurian. A number of these features are independently present in ceratosaurs, and Gualicho exhibits an unusual mosaic of ceratosaurian and tetanuran synapomorphies distributed throughout the skeleton.

Apesteguía S, Smith ND, Juárez Valieri R, Makovicky PJ (2016) An Unusual New Theropod with a Didactyl Manus from the Upper Cretaceous of Patagonia, Argentina. PLoS ONE 11(7): e0157793. doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0157793


Durante la semana pasada el equipo del MAU, Museo Municipal Argentino Urquiza de Rincón de los Sauces, Neuquén, realizó el inesperado hallazgo de los restos de un ejemplar de dinosaurio ornitópodo, el cual se encuentra en muy buen estado de preservación. Las tareas de campo permitieron recuperar los restos integrados por la porción anterior del cuerpo del animal, integrada por las últimas cervicales y las primeras siete dorsales, articuladas con sus correspondientes costillas y ambas escapulo-coracoides. Además, excepcionalmente se halló el miembro anterior derecho completo y articulado al cuerpo. Si bien se habían hallado restos en la zona de este grupo de dinosaurios ornitisquios, este es el primer ejemplar de relevancia hallado en la zona norte de la Provincia de Neuquén, por lo que permite engrosar el conocimiento de la fauna de dinosaurios de esta región. Actualmente el material esta siendo preparado en el laboratorio del Museo.

 
Penélope Cruzado-Caballeroa, Leonardo S. Filippi, Ariel H. Méndez, Alberto C. Garrido and Rubén D. Juárez Valieri

Ornithopods are the least known dinosaurs within the Upper Cretaceous record of Argentina. For this rea-son every new record is very important to know their evolution in South America. Here, we describe a new remain of an indeterminate ornithopod recovered in the Petrobrasaurus quarry of the Puesto Hernández area, northeastern Neuquén province (Argentina), late Coniacian–early Santonian in age. MAU-Pv-PH-458 is the northernmost bone record of an ornithopod in Argentina. This is a fragmentary neural arch fromthe middle section of the dorsal series of similar size to Macrogryphosaurus gondwanicus. MAU-Pv-PH-458 has typical ornithopod characters such as a lateromedial narrow neural spine and transverse processes dorsoposteriorly to posteriorly oriented. It shares with Macrogryphosaurus the presence of a deep cannel between the bases of the postzygapophysis, which is a continuation of the channel that separates the postzygapophyses in posterior view. MAU-Pv-PH-458 increases the ornithopod record from the Plottier Formation.

Cruzado-Caballero, P., et al., New record of ornithopod dinosaur from the Plottier Formation (Upper Cretaceous), Patagonia, Argentina. Annales de Paléontologie (2016), http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.annpal.2016.02.003


Ariana Paulina Carabajal, Juan I. Canale, and Alejandro Haluza

Report a new rebbachisaurid material recovered from the Candeleros Formation (Cenomanian) of northwest Patagonia, Argentina. The cranial remains consist of a partial braincase and a right quadrate. Fractures in the braincase exposed the endocranial cavity, allowing the first study of the brain and inner ear morphologies of a South American rebbachisaurid. The braincase and cranial endocast both exhibit traits similar to those observed in the Cretaceous rebbachisaurs Nigersaurus from Africa and Limaysaurus from Argentina, although in terms of osteology, the South American taxa are highly similar. The endocast is more similar to that of Nigersaurus than to those of Diplodocus and Camarasaurus, suggesting some probable rebbachisaurid features such as the noteworthy presence of the flocculus. The overall morphology of the quadrate shows similarities with Limaysaurus and Nigersaurus. However, differences such as the broader posterior fossa and the shape and orientation of the head and the pterygoid process indicate that the new specimen could represent a distinct taxon.

Ariana Paulina Carabajal, Juan I. Canale & Alejandro Haluza (2016): New rebbachisaurid cranial remains (Sauropoda, Diplodocoidea) from the Cretaceous of Patagonia, Argentina, and the first endocranial description for a South American representative of the clade, Journal of Vertebrate Paleontology, DOI: 10.1080/02724634.2016.1167067


Jeffrey A. Wilson, Diego Pol, Alberto B. Carvalho & Hussam Zaher

Although Titanosauria is the most diverse and late-surviving sauropod lineage, cranial elements are known for just over 24 of its 70+ genera – the vast majority of which are fairly fragmentary and restricted to the Late Cretaceous. Only three complete titanosaur skulls have been described to date; two of these are from the latest Cretaceous (Nemegtosaurus, Rapetosaurus), and the third, Tapuiasaurus, is from the Early Cretaceous (Aptian). In this contribution, we build on the initial treatment of the taxon by providing a complete description of the cranial elements that benefits from additional preparation and computed tomography imaging. We identify six additional features diagnosing Tapuiasaurus macedoi, including a jugal with an elongate lacrimal process forming much of the posteroventral border of the antorbital fenestra, a lateral temporal fenestra divided by a second squamosal–postorbital contact, and upper jaw teeth with labial wear facets. We directed the new morphological data in Tapuiasaurus as well as other observations towards a re-analysis of its phylogenetic position within Titanosauria. Our analysis yielded 34 most parsimonious trees, most of which recovered Tapuiasaurus in a basal position adjacent to the Early Cretaceous taxa Malawisaurus and Tangvayosaurus, but two trees recovered it within Late Cretaceous nemegtosaurids. We explored the effects of missing data and missing stratigraphic ranges on our results, concluding that (1) when missing data levels are high, resolution of even small amounts of that missing data can have dramatic effects on topology, (2) taxa that are mostly scored for characters that cannot be scored in other taxa may be topologically unstable and (3) there were several suboptimal trees that had greatly improved stratigraphic fit with relatively little compromise in terms of tree length.

Jeffrey A. Wilson, Diego Pol, Alberto B. Carvalho  and Hussam Zaher (2016) The skull of the titanosaur Tapuiasaurus macedoi (Dinosauria: Sauropoda), a basal titanosaur from the Lower Cretaceous of Brazil. Zoological Journal of the Linnean Society DOI: 10.1111/zoj.12420

 
 

Rubén D. F. Martínez, Matthew C. Lamanna, Fernando E. Novas, Ryan C. Ridgely, Gabriel A. Casal, Javier E. Martínez, Javier R. Vita & Lawrence M. Witmer

We describe Sarmientosaurus musacchioi gen. et sp. nov., a titanosaurian sauropod dinosaur from the Upper Cretaceous (Cenomanian - Turonian) Lower Member of the Bajo Barreal Formation of southern Chubut Province in central Patagonia, Argentina. The holotypic and only known specimen consists of an articulated, virtually complete skull and part of the cranial and middle cervical series. Sarmientosaurus exhibits the following distinctive features that we interpret as autapomorphies: (1) maximum diameter of orbit nearly 40% rostrocaudal length of cranium; (2) complex maxilla-lacrimal articulation, in which the lacrimal clasps the ascending ramus of the maxilla; (3) medial edge of caudal sector of maxillary ascending ramus bordering bony nasal aperture with low but distinct ridge; (4) ‘tongue-like’ ventral process of quadratojugal that overlaps quadrate caudally; (5) separate foramina for all three branches of the trigeminal nerve; (6) absence of median venous canal connecting infundibular region to ventral part of brainstem; (7) subvertical premaxillary, procumbent maxillary, and recumbent dentary teeth; (8) cervical vertebrae with ‘strut-like’ centroprezygapophyseal laminae; (9) extremely elongate and slender ossified tendon positioned ventrolateral to cervical vertebrae and ribs. The cranial endocast of Sarmientosaurus preserves some of the most complete information obtained to date regarding the brain and sensory systems of sauropods. Phylogenetic analysis recovers the new taxon as a basal member of Lithostrotia, as the most plesiomorphic titanosaurian to be preserved with a complete skull. Sarmientosaurus provides a wealth of new cranial evidence that reaffirms the close relationship of titanosaurs to Brachiosauridae. Moreover, the presence of the relatively derived lithostrotian Tapuiasaurus in Aptian deposits indicates that the new Patagonian genus represents a ‘ghost lineage’ with a comparatively plesiomorphic craniodental form, the evolutionary history of which is missing for at least 13 million years of the Cretaceous. The skull anatomy of Sarmientosaurus suggests that multiple titanosaurian species with dissimilar cranial structures coexisted in the early Late Cretaceous of southern South America. Furthermore, the new taxon possesses a number of distinctive morphologies such as the ossified cervical tendon, extremely pneumatized cervical vertebrae, and a habitually downward facing snout that have rarely, if ever, been documented in other titanosaurs, thus broadening our understanding of the anatomical diversity of this remarkable sauropod clade. The latter two features were convergently acquired by at least one penecontemporaneous diplodocoid, and may represent mutual specializations for consuming low-growing vegetation.

Martínez RDF, Lamanna MC, Novas FE, Ridgely RC, Casal GA, Martínez JE, et al. (2016) A Basal Lithostrotian Titanosaur (Dinosauria: Sauropoda) with a Complete Skull: Implications for the Evolution and Paleobiology of Titanosauria. PloS ONE 11(4): e0151661. doi:10.1371/journal. pone.0151661

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