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Concept: Stegosaurus


Conclusive evidence for sexual dimorphism in non-avian dinosaurs has been elusive. Here it is shown that dimorphism in the shape of the dermal plates of Stegosaurus mjosi (Upper Jurassic, western USA) does not result from non-sex-related individual, interspecific, or ontogenetic variation and is most likely a sexually dimorphic feature. One morph possessed wide, oval plates 45% larger in surface area than the tall, narrow plates of the other morph. Intermediate morphologies are lacking as principal component analysis supports marked size- and shape-based dimorphism. In contrast, many non-sex-related individual variations are expected to show intermediate morphologies. Taphonomy of a new quarry in Montana (JRDI 5ES Quarry) shows that at least five individuals were buried in a single horizon and were not brought together by water or scavenger transportation. This new site demonstrates co-existence, and possibly suggests sociality, between two morphs that only show dimorphism in their plates. Without evidence for niche partitioning, it is unlikely that the two morphs represent different species. Histology of the new specimens in combination with studies on previous specimens indicates that both morphs occur in fully-grown individuals. Therefore, the dimorphism is not a result of ontogenetic change. Furthermore, the two morphs of plates do not simply come from different positions on the back of a single individual. Plates from all positions on the body can be classified as one of the two morphs, and previously discovered, isolated specimens possess only one morph of plates. Based on the seemingly display-oriented morphology of plates, female mate choice was likely the driving evolutionary mechanism rather than male-male competition. Dinosaur ornamentation possibly served similar functions to the ornamentation of modern species. Comparisons to ornamentation involved in sexual selection of extant species, such as the horns of bovids, may be appropriate in predicting the function of some dinosaur ornamentation.

Concepts: Sexual dimorphism, Sexual selection, Ronald Fisher, Sexuality, Dinosaur, Jurassic, Stegosaurus, Morrison Formation


Although Stegosaurus is one of the most iconic dinosaurs, well-preserved fossils are rare and as a consequence there is still much that remains unknown about the taxon. A new, exceptionally complete individual affords the opportunity to describe the anatomy of Stegosaurus in detail for the first time in over a century, and enables additional comparisons with other stegosaurian dinosaurs. The new specimen is from the Red Canyon Ranch Quarry, near Shell Wyoming, and appears to have been so well preserved because it was buried rapidly in a pond or body of standing water immediately after death. The quarry is probably located in the middle part of the Morrison Formation, which is believed to be Tithonian in age in this area. The specimen is referable to Stegosaurus stenops based on the possession of an edentulous anterior portion of the dentary and elevated postzygapophyses on the cervical vertebrae. New information provided by the specimen concerns the morphology of the vertebrae, the iliosacral block and dermal armor. Several aspects of its morphology indicate the individual was not fully skeletally mature at the time of death, corroborating a previous histological study.

Concepts: Dinosaur, Tithonian, Jurassic, Thyreophora, Stegosauria, Stegosaurus, Allosaurus, Morrison Formation


The first African dinosaur to be discovered,Paranthodon africanuswas found in 1845 in the Lower Cretaceous of South Africa. Taxonomically assigned to numerous groups since discovery, in 1981 it was described as a stegosaur, a group of armoured ornithischian dinosaurs characterised by bizarre plates and spines extending from the neck to the tail. This assignment has been subsequently accepted. The type material consists of a premaxilla, maxilla, a nasal, and a vertebra, and contains no synapomorphies of Stegosauria. Several features of the maxilla and dentition are reminiscent of Ankylosauria, the sister-taxon to Stegosauria, and the premaxilla appears superficially similar to that of some ornithopods. The vertebral material has never been described, and since the last description of the specimen, there have been numerous discoveries of thyreophoran material potentially pertinent to establishing the taxonomic assignment of the specimen. An investigation of the taxonomic and systematic position ofParanthodonis therefore warranted. This study provides a detailed re-description, including the first description of the vertebra. Numerous phylogenetic analyses demonstrate that the systematic position ofParanthodonis highly labile and subject to change depending on which exemplifier for the clade Stegosauria is used. The results indicate that the use of a basal exemplifier may not result in the correct phylogenetic position of a taxon being recovered if the taxon displays character states more derived than those of the basal exemplifier, and we recommend the use, minimally, of one basal and one derived exemplifier per clade.Paranthodonis most robustly recovered as a stegosaur in our analyses, meaning it is one of the youngest and southernmost stegosaurs.

Concepts: Taxonomy, Cladistics, Dinosaur, International Code of Zoological Nomenclature, Thyreophora, Ornithischia, Stegosauria, Stegosaurus


Discovery of a pelvis attributed to the Late Jurassic armor-plated dinosaur Gargoyleosaurus sheds new light on the origin of the peculiar non-vertical, broad, flaring pelvis of ankylosaurs. It further substantiates separation of the two ankylosaurs from the Morrison Formation of the western United States, Gargoyleosaurus and Mymoorapelta. Although horizontally oriented and lacking the medial curve of the preacetabular process seen in Mymoorapelta, the new ilium shows little of the lateral flaring seen in the pelvis of Cretaceous ankylosaurs. Comparison with the basal thyreophoran Scelidosaurus demonstrates that the ilium in ankylosaurs did not develop entirely by lateral rotation as is commonly believed. Rather, the preacetabular process rotated medially and ventrally and the postacetabular process rotated in opposition, i.e., lateral and ventrally. Thus, the dorsal surfaces of the preacetabular and postacetabular processes are not homologous. In contrast, a series of juvenile Stegosaurus ilia show that the postacetabular process rotated dorsally ontogenetically. Thus, the pelvis of the two major types of Thyreophora most likely developed independently. Examination of other ornithischians show that a non-vertical ilium had developed independently in several different lineages, including ceratopsids, pachycephalosaurs, and iguanodonts. Therefore, a separate origin for the non-vertical ilium in stegosaurs and ankylosaurs does have precedent.

Concepts: Dinosaur, Kimmeridgian, Ankylosauridae, Ankylosauria, Thyreophora, Ornithischia, Stegosaurus, Morrison Formation


Using bone histology, a slow growth rate, uncommon for most dinosaurs, has been interpreted for the highly derived stegosaur Stegosaurus (Ornithischia: Thyreophora) and the basal thyreophoran Scutellosaurus. In this study, we examine whether this slow growth rate also occurs in the more basal stegosaur Kentrosaurus from the Tendaguru beds of Tanzania. The bone histology of six femora of Kentrosaurus representing an ontogenetic series from subadult to adult was studied, as well as one scapula. The primary bone is mainly highly vascularized fibro-lamellar bone with some reticular organization of the vascular canals. In addition to LAGs and annuli, distinctive shifts in the pattern of vascularization occur, which have been interpreted as potential growth marks. The variation in the development of growth marks may reflect annual climatic fluctuations. The overall bone depositional rate, and hence growth rate in Kentrosaurus appears to be higher than in Stegosaurus and Scutellosaurus. Considering that Stegosaurus is the larger-sized of the two stegosaurs, this would be contrary to an earlier supposition that small-bodied dinosaurs have slower growth rates than larger ones. Our finding of rapid rates of bone deposition in Kentrosaurus suggests that slow growth rates previously reported in Scutellosaurus and Stegosaurus are not a phylogenetic characteristic of the Thyreophora. Thus, slow growth rates are not plesiomorphic for the Thyreophora. We propose that the slow growth rates documented in the highly derived Stegosaurus could have been secondarily derived or alternatively that Kentrosaurus is the exception having increased growth rates. Anat Rec, 2013. © 2013 Wiley Periodicals, Inc.

Concepts: Dinosaur, Kimmeridgian, Thyreophora, Ornithischia, Stegosauria, Stegosaurus, Kentrosaurus, Tendaguru