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Beak morphology of megaherbivorous dinosaurs from Dinosaur Park Formation of Alberta, Canada



From: Ben Creisler
bcreisler@gmail.com

A new online paper:

Jordan C. Mallon & Jason S. Anderson (2013)
Implications of beak morphology for the evolutionary palaeoecology of
the megaherbivorous dinosaurs from the Dinosaur Park Formation (upper
Campanian) of Alberta, Canada.
Palaeogeography, Palaeoclimatology, Palaeoecology (advance online publication)
doi: http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.palaeo.2013.11.014
http://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0031018213005087




Using the megaherbivorous dinosaur assemblage from the Dinosaur Park
Formation as a model, linear and geometric morphometrics are applied
to examine the degree to which different feeding styles—as reflected
by beak morphology—facilitated the coexistence of these animals on the
Late Cretaceous island continent of Laramidia. Our findings indicate
that megaherbivorous dinosaurs occupied a spectrum of feeding habits.
The wide, square beaks of the ankylosaurs suggest that these animals
were bulk-feeders that consumed more fibrous herbage than
traditionally assumed. Conversely, the narrow, square beaks of the
ceratopsids evoke concentrate feeders, although the large body sizes
and sophisticated dental batteries of these animals suggest a diet of
forbs and low-growing scrub, akin to the feeding strategy of the black
rhinoceros (Diceros bicornis). Both nodosaurids and hadrosaurids had
beaks of intermediate size and shape, suggesting that these were mixed
feeders that consumed a diversity of plant types of variable
nutritional quality. Contrary to previous suggestions, there is little
evidence for different feeding styles within the aforementioned
families. Feeding styles were evolutionarily stable, and lend further
support to the contention that the fossil assemblage of the Belly
River Group constitutes a chronofauna.