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Titanosaur osteoderms from Upper Cretaceous of Lo Hueco, Spain

Ben Creisler

New in PLoS ONE:

Daniel Vidal, Francisco Ortega & José Luis Sanz (2014)
Titanosaur Osteoderms from the Upper Cretaceous of Lo Hueco (Spain)
and Their Implications on the Armor of Laurasian Titanosaurs.
PLoS ONE 9(8): e102488.

Titanosaurs are the only sauropod dinosaurs known to bear a dermal
armor. Their osteoderms are relatively rare finds, with few more than
a hundred specimens recovered worldwide. Also, little is known about
their intra-individual, intra-specific or inter-specific variability.
The macrovertebrate site of Lo Hueco (Upper Cretaceous; Cuenca, Spain)
has yielded several complete specimens of osteoderms, some associated
with fairly articulated specimens. They are all variations of the
morphotype known as bulb and root. The presence of only this
morphotype in Europe, which is considered as the primitive condition
among titanosaurs, seems to indicate that the known Upper Cretaceous
Laurasian titanosaurs only bore these referred bulb and root
osteoderms. An eliptic Fourier analysis on the outline of complete
specimens from this morphotype reveals: i) that they truly are part of
a morphological cline; and ii) the existence of a consistent
correlation between the outline and the morphology of the bulb. Such
variation along a cline is more consistent with intra-individual
rather than inter-specific variation. The osteoderms associated with a
single titanosaur individual from Lo Hueco reinforce this hypothesis.