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Deinonychus Morphological Variations within Ontogeny

Ben Creisler

New in PLoS ONE:

William L. Parsons & Kristen M. Parsons (2015)
Morphological Variations within the Ontogeny of Deinonychus
antirrhopus (Theropoda, Dromaeosauridae).
PLoS ONE 10(4): e0121476.

This research resulted from the determination that MCZ 8791 is a
specimen of Deinonychus antirrhopus between one and two years of age
and that the morphological variations within particular growth stages
of this taxon have yet to be described. The primary goal of the
research is to identify ontogenetic variations in this taxon.
Histological analyses determined that the Deinonychus specimens AMNH
3015 and MOR 1178 were adults. Comparisons are made between MCZ 8791
and these adult specimens. The holotype, YPM 5205, and the other
associated specimens of this taxon within the YPM collection are
similar in size and morphology to AMNH 3015. Further comparisons were
made with the three partial specimens OMNH 50268, MCZ 4371, and MOR
1182. Although these specimens represent only a partial ontogenetic
series, a number of morphological variations can be described. One
secondary goal of this research is to compare the known pattern of
variable, informative, ontogenetic characters in MCZ 8791 to a similar
pattern of morphological characters in the sub-adult dromaeosaurid
specimen Bambiraptor feinbergorum, AMNH FR: 30556. If the characters
that have been determined to represent variable juvenile morphology in
the ontogeny of Deinonychus are exhibited in Bambiraptor, this study
will begin the process of determining whether a similar, conservative,
ontogenetic pattern exists throughout the rest of Dromaeosauridae. If
defensible, it may reduce the number of sympatric taxa within this
clade. The other secondary goal relates to the forelimb function. The
approximate body size, forelimb length, wrist development, and the
presence of a more prominent olecranon on the ulna of MCZ 8791 support
the hypothesis that juveniles of this taxon possessed some form of
flight capability.