Morphofunctional analysis of the quadrate of Spinosauridae (Dinosauria: Theropoda) and the presence of Spinosaurus and a second spinosaurine taxon in the Cenomanian of North Africa

Christophe Hendrickx, Octávio Mateus, Eric Buffetaut

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Abstract

Six quadrate bones, of which two almost certainly come from the Kem Kem beds (Cenomanian, Upper Cretaceous) of south-eastern Morocco, are determined to be from juvenile and adult individuals of Spinosaurinae based on phylogenetic, geometric morphometric, and phylogenetic morphometric analyses. Their morphology indicates two morphotypes evidencing the presence of two spinosaurine taxa ascribed to Spinosaurus aegyptiacus and? Sigilmassasaurus brevicollis in the Cenomanian of North Africa, casting doubt on the accuracy of some recent skeletal reconstructions which may be based on elements from several distinct species. Morphofunctional analysis of the mandibular articulation of the quadrate has shown that the jaw mechanics was peculiar in Spinosauridae. In mature spinosaurids, the posterior parts of the two mandibular rami displaced laterally when the jaw was depressed due to a lateromedially oriented intercondylar sulcus of the quadrate. Such lateral movement of the mandibular ramus was possible due to a movable mandibular symphysis in spinosaurids, allowing the pharynx to be widened. Similar jaw mechanics also occur in some pterosaurs and living pelecanids which are both adapted to capture and swallow large prey items. Spinosauridae, which were engaged, at least partially, in a piscivorous lifestyle, were able to consume large fish and may have occasionally fed on other prey such as pterosaurs and juvenile dinosaurs.

Original languageEnglish
Article numbere0144695
JournalPlosOne
Volume11
Issue number1
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 6 Jan 2016

Keywords

  • KEM KEM BEDS
  • CARNIVOROUS DINOSAURS
  • PALEOBIOGEOGRAPHICAL IMPLICATIONS
  • ABELISAURIDAE DINOSAURIA
  • PREDATORY DINOSAUR
  • CRANIAL EVOLUTION
  • MOROCCO
  • PHYLOGENY
  • SKULL
  • TEETH

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