First definitive association between embryonic Allosaurus bones and prismatoolithus eggs in the Morrison Formation (Upper Jurassic, Wyoming, USA)

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingConference contribution

Abstract

Despite more than a century of collecting, resulting in one of the best-studied vertebrate fossil records anywhere in the world, the Upper Jurassic Morrison Formation has produced surprisingly few examples of dinosaur eggs associated with embryonic remains. Even more puzzling, none of these seem to pertain to the theropod Allosaurus, one of the most common and best-understood dinosaur taxa in the formation. Here we
report on a dinosaur nest site that has produced both abundant prismatoolithid eggshell and embryonic (or perinatal) bones of Allosaurus from Fox Mesa, Wyoming. This represents the first such discovery for any theropod in the Jurassic of North America. The nest is heavily weathered but contains a few ellipsoid eggshell clusters that suggest an egg size of about 8 x 6.5 cm. Study of the eggshell morphology and microstructure confirms that a single egg type is present throughout, which is indistinguishable from Prismatoolithus coloradensis. All of the identifiable embryonic materials pertain to theropods, and two premaxillae specimens show the five alveoli diagnostic for Allosaurus among Morrison theropods. This confirms the theropod origin of Prismatoolithus eggs and implicates Allosaurus as the specific Morrison parent taxon. As a result, it is now possible to assign several previous discoveries of dinosaur eggs and potential nests to Allosaurus, including the isolated egg from the Cleveland-Lloyd Quarry. This discovery
also calls into question prior assignments of Prismatoolithus eggs to ornithopods, and suggests that more detailed study of such sites is warranted. Prismatoolithus eggshells are also associated with the Upper Jurassic theropod Lourinhanosaurus from Portugal, along with larger embryos that exhibit four premaxillary alveoli.

Original languageUnknown
Title of host publicationJournal of Vertebrate Paleontology
Pages101
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jan 2013
EventAnnual Meeting of the Society of Vertebrate Paleontology -
Duration: 1 Jan 2013 → …

Conference

ConferenceAnnual Meeting of the Society of Vertebrate Paleontology
Period1/01/13 → …

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