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[dinosaur] Neuroanatomy of abelisaurid theropod Viavenator

Ben Creisler

A new paper:

Ariana Paulina-Carabajal & Leonardo Filippi (2017)
Neuroanatomy of the abelisaurid theropod Viavenator: The most complete reconstruction of a cranial endocast and inner ear for a South American representative of the clade.
Cretaceous Research (advance online publication)

The type braincase of Viavenator exxoni (MAU-Pv-LI-530) was recovered complete and isolated from most of the other skull bones. Although the braincase is crossed by numerous fractures, using CT scans allowed the generation of 3D renderings of the endocranial cavity enclosing the brain, cranial nerves, and blood vessels, as well as the labyrinth of the inner ear. Within the abelisaurids, the only taxon with a complete braincase and known endocranial morphology is Majungasaurus crenatissimus, from Africa. In turn, in Argentina, partial endocranial morphology is known for another two Cretaceous forms: Abelisaurus comahuensis and Aucasaurus garridoi. Here, we present the most complete reconstruction of the neuroanatomy for a representative of the clade in South America. These findings add knowledge to the field of theropod paleoneuroanatomy in general, and abelisaurid diversity in particular. Comparisons of Viavenator with other abelisaurids indicate greater similarity with Aucasaurus than with Majungasaurus, suggesting that South American forms shared the same neurosensorial capabilities, which include larger flocculus of the cerebellum and larger olfactory ratios than the form from Madagascar.