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Tataouinea, new rebbachisaurid sauropod from Early Cretaceous of Tunisia



From: Ben Creisler
bcreisler@gmail.com

A new paper in Nature Communications:

Federico Fanti, Andrea Cau, Mohsen Hassine & Michela Contessi (2013)
A new sauropod dinosaur from the Early Cretaceous of Tunisia with
extreme avian-like pneumatization.
Nature Communications 4, Article number: 2080
doi:10.1038/ncomms3080
http://www.nature.com/ncomms/2013/130709/ncomms3080/full/ncomms3080.html


Recent interpretations of the postcranial anatomy of sauropod
dinosaurs differ about pneumatic features supporting an avian-like
ventilatory system; the most conservative workers reject most
postcranial pneumatizations as being unambiguous evidence of abdominal
air sacs. Here we describe the first articulated dinosaur skeleton
from Tunisia and refer it to a new rebbachisaurid sauropod, Tataouinea
hannibalis gen. et sp. nov. The Tunisian specimen shows a complex
pattern of caudosacral and pelvic pneumatization—including the first
report of an ischial pneumatic foramen among Dinosauria—strongly
supporting the presence of abdominal air sacs. Character optimization
among Rebbachisauridae indicates that in the caudal vertebrae,
pneumatization of the neural arches preceded that of the centra; in
the pelvis, pneumatization of the bones adjacent to the sacrum
preceded that of more distal elements. Tataouinea was more closely
related to European nigersaurines than to otherwise Gondwanan
rebbachisaurids; this supports an Afro-European route for
rebbachisaurid dispersal.