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[dinosaur] Camarasaurus dentition, oral soft tissues, and possible beak

Ben Creisler

A new paper:

Kayleigh Wiersma & P. Martin Sander  (2016)
The dentition of a well-preserved specimen of Camarasaurus sp.: implications for function, tooth replacement, soft part reconstruction, and food intake.
PalZ (advance online publication)

The basal macronarian genus Camarasaurus was the most common sauropod in the Upper Jurassic Morrison Formation of North America and is known from several complete and partial skeletons. The specimen used for this study is Camarasaurus sp. SMA 0002 from the Sauriermuseum Aathal, Switzerland. This specimen was found in the Howe-Stephens Quarry, Bighorn Basin, WY, USA. In this study, the dental morphology, characterized by the spatulate, broad-crowned teeth, the tooth replacement pattern, and the function of the dentition and its implications for food intake is described. Features such as the absence of denticles, the wrinkled pattern of the enamel, and the occurrence of large wear facets on older teeth are characteristic for Camarasaurus sp. A slab of sediment with soft tissue impressions ranging up to the middle part of the crown suggests the presence of a gingival soft tissue structure partially covering the teeth. The wrinkled enamel on the crown of the teeth of Camarasaurus sp. and other sauropods is interpreted as indication of this cover of gingival connective tissue. In addition, there possibly was a keratinous beak, which together with the gingiva held the teeth in the jaw and provided stability for teeth in which the root is almost completely resorbed.

Note that photos of the skull with fossil soft tissue traces can be seen here:



For descriptions of some post-cranial elements of the skeleton:

Tschopp, Emanuel, Wings, Oliver, Frauenfelder, Thomas, and Brinkmann, Winand. 2015. Articulated bone sets of manus and pedes of Camarasaurus (Sauropoda, Dinosauria). Palaeontologia Electronica 18.2.44A: 1-65