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Juvenile Plateosaurus neural arches from Switzerland (free pdf)

Ben Creisler

A new paper in open-access PeerJ:

Rebecca Hofmann & P. Martin Sander (2014)
The first juvenile specimens of Plateosaurus engelhardti from Frick,
Switzerland: isolated neural arches and their implications for
developmental plasticity in a basal sauropodomorph.
PeerJ 2:e458
doi: http://dx.doi.org/10.7717/peerj.458

The dinosaur Plateosaurus engelhardti is the most abundant dinosaur in
the Late Triassic of Europe and the best known basal sauropodomorph.
Plateosaurus engelhardti was one of the first sauropodomorph dinosaurs
to display a large body size. Remains can be found in the Norian stage
of the Late Triassic in over 40 localities in Central Europe (France,
Germany, and Switzerland) and in Greenland. Since the first discovery
of P. engelhardti no juvenile specimens of this species had been
described in detail. Here we describe the first remains of juvenile
individuals, isolated cervical and dorsal neural arches from
Switzerland. These were separated postmortem from their respective
centra because of unfused neurocentral sutures. However the specimens
share the same neural arch morphology found in adults. Morphometric
analysis suggests body lengths of the juvenile individuals that is
greater than those of most adult specimens. This supports the
hypothesis of developmental plasticity in Plateosaurus engelhardti
that previously had been based on histological data only. Alternative
hypotheses for explaining the poor correlation between ontogenetic
stage and size in this taxon are multiple species or sexual morphs
with little morphological variance or time-averaging of individuals
from populations differing in body size.