Chase D. Brownstein (2018)
Prootic anatomy of a juvenile tyrannosauroid from New Jersey and its implications for the morphology and evolution of the tyrannosauroid braincase.
PeerJ Preprints 6:e26467v1Â
Among the most recognizable theropods are the tyrannosauroids, a group of small to large carnivorous coelurosaurian dinosaurs that inhabited the majority of the northern hemisphere during the Cretaceous and came to dominate large predator niches in North American and Asian ecosystems by the end of the Mesozoic era. The clade is among the best-represented of dinosaur groups in the notoriously sparse fossil record of Appalachia, the Late Cretaceous landmass that occupied the eastern portion of North America after its formation from the transgression of the Western Interior Seaway. Here, the prootic of a juvenile tyrannosauroid collected from the middle-late Campanian Marshalltown Formation of the Atlantic Coastal Plain is described, remarkable for being the first concrete evidence of juvenile theropods in that plain during the time of the existence of Appalachia and the only portion of theropod braincase known from the landmass. Phylogenetic analysis recovers the specimen as an âintermediateâ tyrannosauroid of similar grade to Dryptosaurus and Appalachiosaurus. Comparisons with the corresponding portions of other tyrannosauroid braincases suggest that the Ellisdale prootic is more similar to Turonian forms in morphology than to the derived tyrannosaurids of the Late Cretaceous, thus supporting the hypothesis that Appalachian tyrannosauroids and other vertebrates were relict forms surviving in isolation from their derived counterparts in Eurasia.