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Taphonomic Deformation of Ankylosaur Skulls in PLoS ONE

From: Ben Creisler

A new paper in PLoS ONE:

Victoria M. Arbour & Philip J. Currie (2012)
Analyzing Taphonomic Deformation of Ankylosaur Skulls Using
Retrodeformation and Finite Element Analysis.
PLoS ONE 7(6): e39323.

Taphonomic deformation can make the interpretation of vertebrate
fossil morphology difficult. The effects of taphonomic deformation are
investigated in two ankylosaurid dinosaur taxa, Euoplocephalus tutus
(to investigate effects on our understanding of intraspecific
variation) and Minotaurasaurus ramachandrani (to investigate the
validity of this genus). The ratio of orbit maximum rostrocaudal
length to perpendicular height is used as a strain ellipse, which can
be used to determine if ankylosaur skull fossils have been
dorsoventrally compacted during fossilization and diagenesis. The
software program Geomagic is used to retrodeform three-dimensional
(3D) digital models of the ankylosaur skulls. The effects of sediment
compaction are modeled using finite element analysis, and the
resulting strain distributions are compared with the retrodeformed
models as a test of the retrodeformation method. Taphonomic
deformation can account for a large amount of intraspecific variation
in Euoplocephalus, but finite element analysis and retrodeformation of
Minotaurasaurus shows that many of its diagnostic features are
unlikely to result from deformation.