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Ampelosaurus Neurocranial Osteology and Neuroanatomy

From: Ben Creisler

New in PLoS ONE:

Ryan C. Ridgely, Francisco Ortega, Jose Luis Sanz & Lawrence M. Witmer (2013)
Neurocranial Osteology and Neuroanatomy of a Late Cretaceous
Titanosaurian Sauropod from Spain (Ampelosaurus sp.).
PLoS ONE 8(1): e54991.

Titanosaurians were a flourishing group of sauropod dinosaurs during
Cretaceous times. Fossils of titanosaurians have been found on all
continents and their remains are abundant in a number of Late
Cretaceous sites. Nonetheless, the cranial anatomy of titanosaurians
is still very poorly known. The Spanish latest Cretaceous locality of
“Lo Hueco” yielded a relatively well preserved, titanosaurian
braincase, which shares a number of phylogenetically restricted
characters with Ampelosaurus atacis from France such as a flat
occipital region. However, it appears to differ from A. atacis in some
traits such as the greater degree of dorsoventral compression and the
presence of proatlas facets. The specimen is, therefore, provisionally
identified as Ampelosaurus sp. It was CT scanned, and 3D renderings of
the cranial endocast and inner-ear system were generated. Our
investigation highlights that, although titanosaurs were derived
sauropods with a successful evolutionary history, they present a
remarkably modest level of paleoneurological organization. Compared
with the condition in the basal titanosauriform Giraffatitan brancai,
the labyrinth of Ampelosaurus sp. shows a reduced morphology. The
latter feature is possibly related to a restricted range of
head-turning movements.