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Saltasaurus (titanosaur) presacral osteology

Ben Creisler

A new paper:

Virginia Zurriaguz & Jaime Powell (2015)
New contributions to the presacral osteology of Saltasaurus loricatus
(Sauropoda, Titanosauria) from the Upper Cretaceous of northern
Cretaceous Research 54: 283–300


We describe the presacral vertebral anatomy of Saltasaurus loricatus.
The pneumatic foramina distribution is variable along the presacral vertebra.
The importance of the presence and distribution of pneumatic foramina
in the presacral neural arches has been underestimated in previous
anatomical studies of sauropod dinosaurs.


Saltasaurus loricatus is a derived form of sauropod dinosaur from the
Upper Cretaceous of northern Argentina. In this work, we expand the
information of the presacral vertebral column of Saltasaurus
loricatus, including a detailed description of neural laminae, fossae
and pneumatic foramina of the neural arch, and establish a comparative
analysis with closely related taxa (Neuquensaurus australis and
Rocasaurus muniozi). Our data does not support previous phylogenetic
hypothesis in which S. loricatus is more closely related to R. muniozi
than N. australis. A conservative pattern of distribution of pneumatic
foramina in the neural arch of cervical vertebrae cannot be
recognized. Although variation in the pneumatic foramina distribution
is also present in dorsal vertebrae, these structures are more
commonly observed in certain regions (within the postzygapophyseal
spinodiapophyseal fossa and spinoprezygapophyseal fossa +
prezygapophyseal spinodiapophyseal fossa and in the dorsal border of
the spinodiapophyseal lamina). Our data reveal that, despite its value
in paleobiological and systematic studies, the presence and
distribution pattern of pneumatic foramina in neural arches of
presacral vertebrae appears to be underestimated in previous
anatomical studies.