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Concept: Edmontosaurus


The tube-crested hadrosaurid dinosaur Parasaurolophus is remarkable for its unusual cranial ornamentation, but little is known about its growth and development, particularly relative to well-documented ontogenetic series for lambeosaurin hadrosaurids (such as Corythosaurus, Lambeosaurus, and Hypacrosaurus). The skull and skeleton of a juvenile Parasaurolophus from the late Campanian-aged (∼75.5 Ma) Kaiparowits Formation of southern Utah, USA, represents the smallest and most complete specimen yet described for this taxon. The individual was approximately 2.5 m in body length (∼25% maximum adult body length) at death, with a skull measuring 246 mm long and a femur 329 mm long. A histological section of the tibia shows well-vascularized, woven and parallel-fibered primary cortical bone typical of juvenile ornithopods. The histological section revealed no lines of arrested growth or annuli, suggesting the animal may have still been in its first year at the time of death. Impressions of the upper rhamphotheca are preserved in association with the skull, showing that the soft tissue component for the beak extended for some distance beyond the limits of the oral margin of the premaxilla. In marked contrast with the lengthy tube-like crest in adult Parasaurolophus, the crest of the juvenile specimen is low and hemicircular in profile, with an open premaxilla-nasal fontanelle. Unlike juvenile lambeosaurins, the nasal passages occupy nearly the entirety of the crest in juvenile Parasaurolophus. Furthermore, Parasaurolophus initiated development of the crest at less than 25% maximum skull size, contrasting with 50% of maximum skull size in hadrosaurs such as Corythosaurus. This early development may correspond with the larger and more derived form of the crest in Parasaurolophus, as well as the close relationship between the crest and the respiratory system. In general, ornithischian dinosaurs formed bony cranial ornamentation at a relatively younger age and smaller size than seen in extant birds. This may reflect, at least in part, that ornithischians probably reached sexual maturity prior to somatic maturity, whereas birds become reproductively mature after reaching adult size.

Concepts: Respiratory system, Nasal cavity, Hypacrosaurus, Edmontosaurus, Lambeosaurus, Parasaurolophus, Dinosaur, Hadrosaurid


The Late Cretaceous Nemegt Formation, Gobi Desert, Mongolia has already yielded abundant and complete skeletons of the hadrosaur Saurolophus angustirostris, from half-grown to adult individuals.

Concepts: Nemegt Formation, Edmontosaurus, Hadrosaurid, Gobi Desert, Maastrichtian, Saurolophus, Dinosaur


The fossil record provides tangible, historical evidence for the mode and operation of evolution across deep time. Striking patterns of convergence are some of the strongest examples of these operations, whereby, over time, similar environmental and/or behavioral pressures precipitate similarity in form and function between disparately related taxa. Here we present fossil evidence for an unexpected convergence between gregarious plant-eating mammals and dinosaurs. Recent excavations of Late Pleistocene deposits on Rusinga Island, Kenya, have uncovered a catastrophic assemblage of the wildebeest-like bovid Rusingoryx atopocranion. Previously known from fragmentary material, these new specimens reveal large, hollow, osseous nasal crests: a craniofacial novelty for mammals that is remarkably comparable to the nasal crests of lambeosaurine hadrosaur dinosaurs. Using adult and juvenile material from this assemblage, as well as computed tomographic imaging, we investigate this convergence from morphological, developmental, functional, and paleoenvironmental perspectives. Our detailed analyses reveal broad parallels between R. atopocranion and basal Lambeosaurinae, suggesting that osseous nasal crests may require a highly specific combination of ontogeny, evolution, and environmental pressures in order to develop.

Concepts: Cretaceous, Edmontosaurus, Fossil, Evolution, Geologic time scale, Hadrosaurid, Paleontology, Dinosaur


We describe a new species of an ornithischian dinosaur, Isaberrysaura mollensis gen. et sp. nov. The specimen, consisting in an almost complete skull and incomplete postcranium was collected from the marine-deltaic deposits of the Los Molles Formation (Toarcian-Bajocian), being the first reported dinosaur for this unit, one of the oldest from Neuquén Basin, and the first neornithischian dinosaur known from the Jurassic of South America. Despite showing a general stegosaurian appearance, the extensive phylogenetic analysis carried out depicts Isaberrysaura mollensis gen. et sp. nov. as a basal ornithopod, suggesting that both Thyreophora and neornithischians could have achieved significant convergent features. The specimen was preserved articulated and with some of its gut content place in the middle-posterior part of the thoracic cavity. Such stomach content was identified as seeds, most of them belonging to the Cycadales group. This finding reveals a possible and unexpected role of this ornithischian species as seed-dispersal agent.

Concepts: Jurassic, Ankylosauria, Biology, Edmontosaurus, Thyreophora, South America, Ornithischia, Dinosaur


Mammalian grinding dentitions are composed of four major tissues that wear differentially, creating coarse surfaces for pulverizing tough plants and liberating nutrients. Although such dentition evolved repeatedly in mammals (such as horses, bison, and elephants), a similar innovation occurred much earlier (~85 million years ago) within the duck-billed dinosaur group Hadrosauridae, fueling their 35-million-year occupation of Laurasian megaherbivorous niches. How this complexity was achieved is unknown, as reptilian teeth are generally two-tissue structures presumably lacking biomechanical attributes for grinding. Here we show that hadrosaurids broke from the primitive reptilian archetype and evolved a six-tissue dental composition that is among the most sophisticated known. Three-dimensional wear models incorporating fossilized wear properties reveal how these tissues interacted for grinding and ecological specialization.

Concepts: Hadrosaurus, Maiasaura, Extinction, Mammal, Paleontology, Edmontosaurus, Hadrosaurid, Dinosaur


The cranial anatomy of the flat-skulled hadrosaurine Edmontosaurus regalis (Ornithischia: Hadrosauridae) is extensively described here, based on the holotype and paratype collected from the middle part of the Horseshoe Canyon Formation in southern Alberta. Focus is given to previously undocumented features of ontogenetic and phylogenetic importance. This description facilitates overall osteological comparisons between E. regalis and other hadrosaurids (especially E. annectens), and revises the diagnosis of E. regalis, to which a new autapomorphy (the dorsal half of the jugal anterior process bearing a sharp posterolateral projection into the orbit) is added. We consider the recently named Ugrunaaluk kuukpikensis from the upper Campanian/lower Maastrichtian of Alaska a nomen dubium, and conservatively regard the Alaskan material as belonging to Edmontosaurus sp.. A phylogenetic analysis of Hadrosauroidea using maximum parsimony further corroborates the sister-taxon relationship between E. regalis and E. annectens. In the strict consensus tree, Hadrosaurus foulkii occurs firmly within the clade comprising all non-lambeosaurine hadrosaurids, supporting the taxonomic scheme that divides Hadrosauridae into Hadrosaurinae and Lambeosaurinae. Within Edmontosaurini, Kerberosaurus is posited as the sister taxon to the clade of Shantungosaurus + Edmontosaurus. The biogeographic reconstruction of Hadrosaurinae in light of the time-calibrated cladogram and probability calculation of ancestral areas for all internal nodes reveals a significantly high probability for the North American origin of the clade. However, the Laramidia-Appalachia dispersals around the Santonian-Campanian boundary, inferred from the biogeographic scenario for the North American origin of Hadrosaurinae, are in conflict with currently accepted paleogeographic models. By contrast, the Asian origin of Hadrosaurinae with its relatively low probability resulting from the biogeographic analysis is worth seriously considering, despite the lack of fossil material from the Santonian and lower Campanian of Asia. Extra fossil collecting in appropriate geographic locations and stratigraphic intervals of Asia and Europe will help to clarify the biogeographic dynamics of hadrosaurine dinosaurs in the near future.

Concepts: Hadrosaurus, Phylogenetics, Cladistics, Horseshoe Canyon Formation, Saurolophus, Dinosaur, Edmontosaurus, Hadrosaurid


A new basal hadrosauroid, Koshisaurus katsuyama, from the Lower Cretaceous Kitadani Formation in Fukui, central Japan, is reported. The new taxon is distinguished by an autapomorphy and a unique combination of maxillary, vertebral, pubic and femoral characters. A phylogenetic analysis indicates that Koshisaurus is positioned as a basal member of Hadrosauroidea and is more derived than the contemporaneous Fukuisaurus, which is a non-hadrosauroid hadrosauriform. The presence of the antorbital fossa on the maxilla and at least three subsidiary ridges on the labial side of maxillary tooth crown implies that Koshisaurus was among the most basal hadrosauroids. This discovery indicates a higher diversity of hadrosauroids along the eastern margin of the Asian continent in the Early Cretaceous. 

Concepts: Fukui Prefecture, Ornithopod, Cretaceous, Hadrosaurid, Hadrosauroidea, Edmontosaurus, Dinosaur, Asia


Hadrosaurid dinosaurs, dominant Late Cretaceous herbivores, possessed complex dental batteries with up to 300 teeth in each jaw ramus. Despite extensive interest in the adaptive significance of the dental battery, surprisingly little is known about how the battery evolved from the ancestral dinosaurian dentition, or how it functioned in the living organism. We undertook the first comprehensive, tissue-level study of dental ontogeny in hadrosaurids using several intact maxillary and dentary batteries and compared them to sections of other archosaurs and mammals. We used these comparisons to pinpoint shifts in the ancestral reptilian pattern of tooth ontogeny that allowed hadrosaurids to form complex dental batteries.

Concepts: Edmontosaurus, Extinction, Mammal, Hadrosaurid, Species, Paleontology, Cretaceous, Dinosaur


Feeding strategies of the large theropod, Tyrannosaurus rex, either as a predator or a scavenger, have been a topic of debate previously compromised by lack of definitive physical evidence. Tooth drag and bone puncture marks have been documented on suggested prey items, but are often difficult to attribute to a specific theropod. Further, postmortem damage cannot be distinguished from intravital occurrences, unless evidence of healing is present. Here we report definitive evidence of predation by T. rex: a tooth crown embedded in a hadrosaurid caudal centrum, surrounded by healed bone growth. This indicates that the prey escaped and lived for some time after the injury, providing direct evidence of predatory behavior by T. rex. The two traumatically fused hadrosaur vertebrae partially enclosing a T. rex tooth were discovered in the Hell Creek Formation of South Dakota.

Concepts: Ecology, Hadrosaurid, Predation, Edmontosaurus, Dinosaur, Carnivore, Tyrannosaurus, Hell Creek Formation


Among living vertebrates, soft tissues are responsible for labile appendages (combs, wattles, proboscides) that are critical for activities ranging from locomotion to sexual display [1]. However, soft tissues rarely fossilize, and such soft-tissue appendages are unknown for many extinct taxa, including dinosaurs. Here we report a remarkable “mummified” specimen of the hadrosaurid dinosaur Edmontosaurus regalis from the latest Cretaceous Wapiti Formation, Alberta, Canada, that preserves a three-dimensional cranial crest (or "comb") composed entirely of soft tissue. Previously, crest function has centered on the hypertrophied nasal passages of lambeosaurine hadrosaurids, which acted as resonance chambers during vocalization [2-4]. The fleshy comb in Edmontosaurus necessitates an alternative explanation most likely related to either social signaling or sexual selection [5-7]. This discovery provides the first view of bizarre, soft-tissue signaling structures in a dinosaur and provides additional evidence for social behavior. Crest evolution within Hadrosaurinae apparently culminated in the secondary loss of the bony crest at the terminal Cretaceous; however, the new specimen indicates that cranial ornamentation was in fact not lost but substituted in Edmontosaurus by a fleshy display structure. It also implies that visual display played a key role in the evolution of hadrosaurine crests and raises the possibility of similar soft-tissue structures among other dinosaurs.

Concepts: Anatotitan, Prosaurolophus, Soft tissue, Saurolophus, Tissues, Edmontosaurus, Dinosaur, Hadrosaurid