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[dinosaur] Saurornitholestes cranial anatomy from new specimens

Ben Creisler

A new paper:

Philip J. Currie & David C. Evans (2019)
Cranial Anatomy of New Specimens of Saurornitholestes langstoni (Dinosauria, Theropoda, Dromaeosauridae) from the Dinosaur Park Formation (Campanian) of Alberta.
The Anatomical Record (advance online publication)
doi: https://doi.org/10.1002/ar.24241

The holotype of the dromaeosaurid Saurornitholestes langstoni was described in 1978 on the basis of fewer than 30 associated cranial and postcranial bones of a single individual from Dinosaur Provincial Park. Four additional partial skeletons of Saurornitholestes were recovered from Campanian (Upper Cretaceous) beds of Alberta and Montana over the next 25âyears, although reasonably complete skeletons remained elusive, and virtually nothing was known about the skull. The lack of truly diagnostic material has been problematic, and the relationships of Saurornitholestes to other dromaeosaurids have been difficult to resolve because of the incomplete knowledge of its anatomy. In 2014, an almost complete skeleton, including the skull, was collected less than a kilometer from where the holotype had been found. Although similar in body size to Velociraptor, the facial region of the skull is relatively shorter, taller, and wider. The nasals are pneumatic. The premaxillary teeth are distinctive, and teeth previously identified in the Dinosaur Park Formation as Zapsalis abradens can now be identified as the second premaxillary tooth of S. langstoni. Morphology and wear patterns suggest that these may have been specialized for preening feathers. Many traits define a Campanian North American clade, Saurornitholestinae, that is distinct from an Asian clade that includes Velociraptor (Velociraptorinae). This new information on the skull allows a more complete evaluation of its systematic position within the Dromaeosauridae and supports the suggestion of at least two major faunal interchanges between Asia and North America during the Cretaceous.

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