The most basal ankylosaurine dinosaur from the Albian-Cenomanian of China, with implications for the evolution of the tail club
OPEN Scientific reports | 1 Mar 2018
W Zheng, X Jin, Y Azuma, Q Wang, K Miyata and X Xu
The tail club knob is a highly specialized structure thought to characterize a subgroup of the ankylosaurine ankylosaurians, and the oldest documented tail club knob in the fossil record occurred in the Campanian ankylosaurine Pinacosaurus. Here we report a new ankylosaurid Jinyunpelta sinensis, gen. et sp. nov., from the Albian-Cenomanian Liangtoutang Formation, Jinyun County, Zhejiang, China. This is the first definitive and the best preserved ankylosaurid dinosaur ever found in southern China. Jinyunpelta possesses unique cranial features differs from other ankylosaurs including two paranasal apertures level with and posterior to the external naris, a triangular fossa on the anterodorsal edge of the maxilla, an antorbital fossa in the junction between the maxilla, lacrimal and jugal, and an anterior process of the prearticular that lies ventral to the splenial. Our phylogenetic analysis suggests Jinyunpelta as the most basal ankylosaurine dinosaur. Jinyunpelta has a tail club with interlocking caudal vertebrae and a well-developed tail club knob, it represents the oldest and the most basal ankylosaurian known to have a well-developed tail club knob. The new discovery thus demonstrates that a large and highly modified tail club evolved at the base of the ankylosaurine ankylosaurs at least about 100 million years ago.
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