Albertavenator curriei gen. et sp. nov.
David C. Evans, Thomas M. Cullen, Derek W. Larson & Adam Rego (2017)
A new species of troodontid theropod (Dinosauria: Maniraptora) from the Horseshoe Canyon Formation (Maastrichtian) of Alberta, Canada.
Canadian Journal of Earth Sciences (advance online publication)
Troodontid material from the Maastrichtian of North America is extremely rare, beyond isolated teeth from microvertebrate sites. Here we describe troodontid frontals from the early Maastrichtian Horseshoe Canyon Formation (Horsethief Member). The most complete specimen, TMP 1993.105.0001, is notably foreshortened and robust when compared with numerous specimens referred to Troodon from the Dinosaur Park Formation, and exhibits several characteristics that distinguish it from other Late Cretaceous troodontids. Morphometric analyses reinforce shape differences between TMP 1993.105.0001 and other North American troodontids, and show that proportional differences are independent of size. We therefore erect a new taxon, Albertavenator curriei gen. et sp. nov., which is diagnosed by the following autapomorphies: (1) primary supraciliary foramen is truncated anteriorly by the lacrimal contact; (2) superficial (ectocranial) surface of the frontal proportionally shorter than all known troodontids, with a length to width ratio under 1.3; and (3) frontoparietal contact in which an enlarged lappet of the frontal extends medially to extensively overlap the lateral region of the anteromedial process of the parietal. Interestingly, tooth and jaw morphology from the single relatively complete dentary recovered from the Horseshoe Canyon cannot be distinguished from dentaries and teeth from the Dinosaur Park Formation. If the dentary and teeth from the Horsethief Member of the Horseshoe Canyon Formation prove to belong to A. curriei, extensive overlap in tooth morphology between the Dinosaur Park and Horseshoe Canyon formations reinforces the notion that tooth morphotypes do not exhibit strong correspondence to species alpha diversity, and may encompass multiple closely related taxa.