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Acrotholus, new pachycephalosaurid from Cretaceous of Canada

From: Ben Creisler

A new paper in Nature Communications:

David C. Evans, Ryan K. Schott, Derek W. Larson, Caleb M. Brown &
Michael J. Ryan (2013)
The oldest North American pachycephalosaurid and the hidden diversity
of small-bodied ornithischian dinosaurs.
Nature Communications 4 : Article number: 1828

Taphonomic biases dictate how organisms are represented in the fossil
record, but their effect on studies of vertebrate diversity dynamics
is poorly studied. In contrast to the high diversity and abundance of
small-bodied animals in extant ecosystems, small-bodied dinosaurs are
less common than their large-bodied counterparts, but it is unclear
whether this reflects unique properties of dinosaurian ecosystems or
relates to taphonomic biases. A new, fully domed pachycephalosaurid
dinosaur, Acrotholus audeti, from the Santonian of Alberta predates
incompletely domed taxa, and provides important new information on
pachycephalosaur evolution and the completeness of the ornithischian
fossil record. Here we provide the first empirical evidence that the
diversity of small-bodied ornithischian dinosaurs is strongly
underestimated based on ghost lineages and the high proportion of
robust and diagnostic frontoparietal domes compared with other
pachycephalosaur fossils. This suggests preservational biases have a
confounding role in attempts to decipher vertebrate palaeoecology and
diversity dynamics through the Mesozoic.

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