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Megaherbivorous dinosaur skull ecomorphology from Alberta, Canada
From: Ben Creisler
New in PLoS ONE:
Jordan C. Mallo & Jason S. Anderson (2013)
Skull Ecomorphology of Megaherbivorous Dinosaurs from the Dinosaur
Park Formation (Upper Campanian) of Alberta, Canada.
PLoS ONE 8(7): e67182.
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 km2)
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.