Dakotaraptor steini is a recently described dromaeosaurid dinosaur from the Upper Cretaceous (Maastrichtian) Hell Creek Formation of South Dakota. Included within the D. steini hypodigm are three elements originally identified as furculae, one of which was made part of the holotype specimen. We show that the elements described as D. steini ‘furculae’ are not theropod dinosaur furculae, but are rather trionychid turtle entoplastra referable to cf. Axestemys splendida. The hypodigm of D. steini should be adjusted accordingly.
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.
Ceratopsids (“horned dinosaurs”) are known from western North America and Asia, a distribution reflecting an inferred subaerial link between the two landmasses during the Late Cretaceous. However, this clade was previously unknown from eastern North America, presumably due to limited outcrop of the appropriate age and depositional environment as well as the separation of eastern and western North America by the Western Interior Seaway during much of the Late Cretaceous. A dentary tooth from the Owl Creek Formation (late Maastrichtian) of Union County, Mississippi, represents the first reported occurrence of Ceratopsidae from eastern North America. This tooth shows a combination of features typical of Ceratopsidae, including a double root and a prominent, blade-like carina. Based on the age of the fossil, we hypothesize that it is consistent with a dispersal of ceratopsids into eastern North America during the very latest Cretaceous, presumably after the two halves of North America were reunited following the retreat of the Western Interior Seaway.
The extant anuran fauna of Madagascar is exceptionally rich and almost completely endemic. In recent years, many new species have been described and understanding of the history and relationships of this fauna has been greatly advanced by molecular studies, but very little is known of the fossil history of frogs on the island. Beelzebufo ampinga, the first named pre-Holocene frog from Madagascar, was described in 2008 on the basis of numerous disarticulated cranial and postcranial elements from the Upper Cretaceous (Maastrichtian) Maevarano Formation of Madagascar. These specimens documented the presence of a hyperossified taxon that differed strikingly from extant Malagasy frogs in its large size and heavy coarse cranial exostosis. Here we describe and analyse new, articulated, and more complete material of the skull, vertebral column, and hind limb, as well as additional isolated elements discovered since 2008. μCT scans allow a detailed understanding of both internal and external morphology and permit a more accurate reconstruction. The new material shows Beelzebufo to have been even more bizarre than originally interpreted, with large posterolateral skull flanges and sculptured vertebral spine tables. The apparent absence of a tympanic membrane, the strong cranial exostosis, and vertebral morphology suggest it may have burrowed during seasonally arid conditions, which have been interpreted for the Maevarano Formation from independent sedimentological and taphonomic evidence. New phylogenetic analyses, incorporating both morphological and molecular data, continue to place Beelzebufo with hyloid rather than ranoid frogs. Within Hyloidea, Beelzebufo still groups with the South American Ceratophryidae thus continuing to pose difficulties with both biogeographic interpretations and prior molecular divergence dates.
The abundance of dinosaur eggs in Upper Cretaceous strata of Henan Province, China led to the collection and export of countless such fossils. One of these specimens, recently repatriated to China, is a partial clutch of large dinosaur eggs (Macroelongatoolithus) with a closely associated small theropod skeleton. Here we identify the specimen as an embryo and eggs of a new, large caenagnathid oviraptorosaur, Beibeilong sinensis. This specimen is the first known association between skeletal remains and eggs of caenagnathids. Caenagnathids and oviraptorids share similarities in their eggs and clutches, although the eggs of Beibeilong are significantly larger than those of oviraptorids and indicate an adult body size comparable to a gigantic caenagnathid. An abundance of Macroelongatoolithus eggs reported from Asia and North America contrasts with the dearth of giant caenagnathid skeletal remains. Regardless, the large caenagnathid-Macroelongatoolithus association revealed here suggests these dinosaurs were relatively common during the early Late Cretaceous.
Dromaeosaurids from the Maastrichtian of North America have a poor fossil record and are known largely from isolated teeth, which have typically been referred to taxa based on more complete material from earlier Campanian strata. An almost complete maxilla with well-preserved dentition and an associated dentary from the Hell Creek Formation of Montana are used to establish a new dromaeosaurid taxon in the latest Maastrichtian, immediately prior to the end-Cretaceous extinction event. Acheroraptor temertyorum gen. et sp. nov. is differentiated from other dromaeosaurids on the basis of a hypertrophied postantral wall that projects posteriorly into the antorbital fenestra, a maxillary fenestra positioned low in the antorbital fossa and directly posterior to the promaxillary fenestra, and distinctive dentition with marked apicobasal ridges. The new material allows a dromaeosaurid from the Maastrichtian of North America to be placed within a phylogenetic framework for the first time. Phylogenetic analysis suggests Acheroraptor is a velociraptorine that is more closely related to Asian dromaeosaurids, including Tsaagan and Velociraptor, than it is to Dromaeosaurus, Saurornitholestes, or any other taxon from North America. As part of the Lancian Tyrannosaurus-Triceratops fauna, A. temertyorum is the latest occurring dromaeosaurid. Its relationships and occurrence suggest a complex historical biogeographic scenario that involved multiple, bi-directional faunal interchanges between Asia and North America during the Late Cretaceous.
Megaherbivorous dinosaur coexistence on the Late Cretaceous island continent of Laramidia has long puzzled researchers, owing to the mystery of how so many large herbivores (6-8 sympatric species, in many instances) could coexist on such a small (4-7 million km(2)) landmass. Various explanations have been put forth, one of which-dietary niche partitioning-forms the focus of this study. Here, we apply traditional morphometric methods to the skulls of megaherbivorous dinosaurs from the Dinosaur Park Formation (upper Campanian) of Alberta to infer the ecomorphology of these animals and to test the niche partitioning hypothesis. We find evidence for niche partitioning not only among contemporaneous ankylosaurs, ceratopsids, and hadrosaurids, but also within these clades at the family and subfamily levels. Consubfamilial ceratopsids and hadrosaurids differ insignificantly in their inferred ecomorphologies, which may explain why they rarely overlap stratigraphically: interspecific competition prevented their coexistence.
Recent assessments of morphological changes in the frill during ontogeny hypothesized that the late Maastrichtian horned dinosaur Torosaurus represents the “old adult” of Triceratops, although acceptance of this finding has been disputed on several lines of evidence.
The occurrence of dinosaur pathologic eggs in the Late Cretaceous of Europe is well known, but their origin remains unclear. Here we expose the results of a detailed sampling of the conspicuous fossil record of Late Cretaceous titanosaurian eggs (oogenus Megaloolithius) from several southwestern Europe basins. After examining more than 450 samples, we observed a remarkable and statistically supported occurrence of multiple pathologic eggs in a relatively short stratigraphic range at the end of the early Maastrichtian, circa 71-70 Ma. All pathologic specimens exhibit multi-layered eggshell condition, a characteristic related to dystocia, or egg retention within the female uterus for an abnormal prolonged period of time. After exploring various scenarios, the occurrence of pathologic eggs is strongly correlated with an intense dinosaur faunal replacement that occurred during the early Maastrichtian in the Ibero-Armorican Island. Given that inter-species competiveness is proved to produce major affects in ecological communities, our results suggest that pathologies in the eggs of European titanosaurians could be a consequence of an increase in reproductive stress triggered by direct ecological competition between different dinosaurs. Thus, the present study provides a new perspective of how dinosaurs might have been affected by ecological/environmental disturbance.
While centrosaurines and ceratopsids in general are abundant in the Late Campanian of northern Laramidia, they are much less commonly found in southern Laramidia. This has supported hypotheses of dinosaur provinciality and endemism in the Late Cretaceous with the delineation of at least two separate faunal zones, north and south Laramidia. There have been 12 genera of centrosaurines recognized from northern Laramidia while two genera, Diabloceratops and Nasutoceratops, have been named from southern Laramidia. We present an osteological description and taphonomic outline for a new centrosaurine ceratopsid from the Aguja Formation of northern Coahuila, Mexico that is not currently diagnosable to the generic level, but likely represents a new taxon. Further, we have included three-dimensional surface scans of all material attributed to this animal. Considering the large number of centrosaurines from northern Laramidia, it is likely that cladistic analyses are biased towards this faunal zone. New findings of southern centrosaurines are needed to correct this bias. This discovery expands the range of centrosaurines south to Coahuila, Mexico and adds new information to better characterize the morphology and taxonomy of centrosaurines from southern Laramidia and their evolution in comparison to their northern counterparts.