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[dinosaur] Dakotasuchus from Utah + Bauruemys + gorgonopsian skulls (free pdfs)

Ben Creisler

Some non-dino papers:

Joseph A. Frederickson, Joshua E. Cohen, Tyler C. Hunt, and Richard L. Cifelli (2017)
A new occurrence of Dakotasuchus kingi from the Late Cretaceous of Utah, USA, and the diagnostic utility of postcranial characters in Crocodyliformes.
Acta Palaeontologica Polonica (in press)

Free pdf:


Cenomanian mesoeucrocodylians from North America are known primarily from isolated teeth and scutes; any associated remains of this age are noteworthy and represent welcome additions to knowledge. Herein, we describe postcranial elements belonging to a single individual goniopholidid from the Mussentuchit Member of the Cedar Mountain Formation. We argue that this individual represents only the second fossil referable to Dakotasuchus kingi, based on overlapping elements, such as the coracoid, dorsal vertebrae, and scutes, which are strikingly similar to their counterparts in the holotype. The coracoid, in particular, is readily distinguished from those belonging to other closely-related crocodilian taxa; enough so to warrant detailed comparisons in the absence of diagnostic cranial material. The new D. kingi specimen is nearly 20% larger than the holotype, with body length and mass estimates comparable to modern American alligators (Alligator mississippiensis), making it one of the largest aquatic predators in the Mussentuchit ecosystem.


PeerJ papers now out in final form:

Thiago F. Mariani​ & Pedro S.R. Romano (2017)
Intra-specific variation and allometry of the skull of Late Cretaceous side-necked turtle Bauruemys elegans (Pleurodira, Podocnemididae) and how to deal with morphometric data in fossil vertebrates
PeerJ 5:e2890 
doi https://doi.org/10.7717/peerj.2890


Previous quantitative studies on Bauruemys elegans (Suárez, 1969) shell variation, as well as the taphonomic interpretation of its type locality, have suggested that all specimens collected in this locality may have belonged to the same population. We rely on this hypothesis in a morphometric study of the skull. Also, we tentatively assessed the eating preference habits differentiation that might be explained as due to ontogenetic changes.


We carried out an ANOVA testing 29 linear measurements from 21 skulls of B. elegans taken by using a caliper and through images, using the ImageJ software. First, a Principal Components Analysis (PCA) was performed with 27 measurements (excluding total length and width characters; =raw data) in order to visualize the scatter plots based on the form variance only. Then, a second PCA was carried out using ratios of length and width of each original measurement to assess shape variation among individuals. Finally, original measurements were log-transformed to describe allometries over ontogeny.


No statistical differences were found between caliper and ImageJ measurements. The first three PCs of the PCA with raw data comprised 70.2% of the variance. PC1 was related to size variation and all others related to shape variation. Two specimens plotted outside the 95% ellipse in PC1∼PC2 axes. The first three PCs of the PCA with ratios comprised 64% of the variance. When considering PC1∼PC2, all specimens plotted inside the 95% ellipse. In allometric analysis, five measurements were positively allometric, 19 were negatively allometric and three represented enantiometric allometry. Many bones of the posterior and the lateral emarginations lengthen due to increasing size, while jugal and the quadratojugal decrease in width.


ImageJ is useful in replacing caliper since there was no statistical differences. Yet iterative imputation is more appropriate to deal with missing data in PCA. Some specimens show small differences in form and shape. Form differences were interpreted as occuring due to ontogeny, whereas shape differences are related to feeding changes during growth. Moreover, all outlier specimens are crushed and/or distorted, thus the form/shape differences may be partially due to taphonomy. The allometric lengthening of the parietal, quadrate, squamosal, maxilla, associated with the narrowing of jugal and quadratojugal may be related to changes in feeding habit between different stages of development. This change in shape might represent a progressive skull stretching and enlargement of posterior and lateral emargination during ontogeny, and consequently, the increment of the feeding-apparatus musculature. Smaller individuals may have fed on softer diet, whereas larger ones probably have had a harder diet, as seen in some living species of Podocnemis. We conclude that the skull variation might be related to differences in feeding habits over ontogeny in B. elegans.


Ricardo Araújo, Vincent Fernandez, Michael J. Polcyn, Jörg Fröbisch & Rui M.S. Martins (2017)
Aspects of gorgonopsian paleobiology and evolution: insights from the basicranium, occiput, osseous labyrinth, vasculature, and neuroanatomy. 
PeerJ 5:e3119
doi: https://doi.org/10.7717/peerj.3119

Synapsida, the clade including therapsids and thus also mammals, is one of the two major branches of amniotes. Organismal design, with modularity as a concept, offers insights into the evolution of therapsids, a group that experienced profound anatomical transformations throughout the past 270 Ma, eventually leading to the evolution of the mammalian bauplan. However, the anatomy of some therapsid groups remains obscure. Gorgonopsian braincase anatomy is poorly known and many anatomical aspects of the brain, cranial nerves, vasculature, and osseous labyrinth, remain unclear. We analyzed two gorgonopsian specimens, GPIT/RE/7124 and GPIT/RE/7119, using propagation phase contrast synchrotron micro-computed tomography. The lack of fusion between many basicranial and occipital bones in GPIT/RE/7124, which is an immature specimen, allowed us to reconstruct its anatomy and ontogenetic sequence, in comparison with the mature GPIT/RE/7119, in great detail. We explored the braincase and rendered various skull cavities. Notably, we found that there is a separate ossification between what was previously referred to as the “parasphenoid” and the basioccipital. We reinterpreted this element as a posterior ossification of the basisphenoid: the basipostsphenoid. Moreover, we show that the previously called “parasphenoid” is in fact the co-ossification of the dermal parasphenoid and the endochondral basipresphenoid. In line with previous descriptions, the anatomy of the osseous labyrinth is rendered in detail, revealing a unique discoid morphology of the horizontal semicircular canal, rather than toroidal, probably due to architectural constraints of the ossification of the opisthotic and supraoccipital. In addition, the orientation of the horizontal semicircular canal suggests that gorgonopsians had an anteriorly tilted alert head posture. The morphology of the brain endocast is in accordance with the more reptilian endocast shape of other non-mammaliaform neotherapsids.