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New Perspectives on Horned Dinosaurs: The Royal Tyrrell Museum Ceratopsian Symposium

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Easily distinguished by the horns and frills on their skulls, ceratopsians were one of the most successful of all dinosaurs. This volume presents a broad range of cutting-edge research on the functional biology, behavior, systematics, paleoecology, and paleogeography of the horned dinosaurs, and includes descriptions of newly identified species.

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Acknowledgments

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We thank all of the participants who attended the Ceratopsian Symposium in 2007 and helped us realize that this volume would be a successful venture. We thank the authors for their attention to detail and timely responses to our numerous harangues about deadlines. We also thank the reviewers who did their jobs, ensuring that these contributions were of high quality both scientifically and editorially, and turned the manuscripts around so efficiently. In particular, we thank Andy Farke for his diligence and efforts in cheerfully and effectively reviewing so many contributions.

Our sincere gratitude goes to Bob Sloan and his team at Indiana University Press for all their help with this project.

Our home organizations gave freely of their time, physical resources, and manpower, in particular the Royal Tyrrell Museum, which provided the FTP site and physical space that were critical for the compilation of this volume. Both the Cleveland Museum of Natural History and the Royal Tyrrell Museum Cooperating Society provided funds in support of this project and we thank them for that.

 

List of Contributors

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Martha C. Aguillón-Martínez

Coordinactión de Paleontología, Secretaría de Educación y Cultura, Museo del Desierto, Saltillo, Coahuila, Mexico.

Art Andersen

Virtual Surfaces, Inc., Mt. Prospect, IL 60056 USA.

Kenneth Bader

Museum of Natural History, University of Kansas, 1345

Jayhawk Blvd., Lawrence, KS 66045 USA.

Vaia Barkas

P.O. Box 119, Whitehall, MT 59759 USA.

Erik Brandlen

Department of Geology and Geophysics, and Geophysical Institute, University of Alaska, P.O. Box 755780, Fairbanks, AK 99775 USA.

Donald B. Brinkman

Royal Tyrrell Museum of Palaeontology, P.O. Box 7500, Drumheller, AB T0J 0Y0 Canada.

Ralph E. Chapman

Eryops Consulting, 295 Bryce Ave., Los Alamos, NM 87544 USA.

Brenda J. Chinnery-Allgeier

School of Biological Sciences, University of Texas at Austin, 1 University Station, A6500, Austin, TX 78712 USA.

Philip J. Currie

Department of Biological Sciences, University of Alberta, Edmonton, AB T6G 2E9 Canada.

 

List of Reviewers

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Donald B. Brinkman

Royal Tyrrell Museum of Palaeontology, P.O. Box 7500, Drumheller, AB T0J 0Y0 Canada.

Brooks Britt

Brigham Young University, Department of Geology S-387 ESC, P.O. Box 24606, Provo, UT 85602 USA.

Kenneth Carpenter

Denver Museum of Natural History, Department of Earth Sciences, 2001 Colorado Blvd., Denver, CO 80205 USA.

Brenda J. Chinnery-Allgeier

School of Biological Sciences, University of Texas at Austin, 1 University Station, A6500, Austin, TX 78712 USA.

Philip J. Currie

Department of Biological Sciences, University of Alberta, Edmonton, AB T6G 2E9 Canada.

Peter Dodson

School of Veterinary Medicine, University of Pennsylvania, 3800 Spruce St., Philadelphia, PA 19104 USA.

David A. Eberth

Royal Tyrrell Museum of Palaeontology, P.O. Box 7500, Drumheller, AB T0J 0Y0 Canada.

David C. Evans

Royal Ontario Museum, Department of Natural History, 100 Queen’s Park, Toronto, ON M5S 2C6 Canada.

 

Part One: Overview

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PETER DODSON

With the death of my beloved and highly esteemed mentor John Ostrom (1928–2005), I seem to have become the dean, or at least the senior citizen, of ceratopsian studies. Of course my interest in dinosaurs came from my childhood in the 1950s, at a time when there was not nearly so much dinosaur “stuff.” A vivid early encounter with dinosaurs came when my mother, a lover of classical music, took me to see Walt Disney’s Fantasia. I was enthralled by the paleontology segment that started with the beginning of unicellular life in the primordial seas and ended with the death march of the dinosaurs to the stirring chords of Stravinsky’s Sacre du Printemps. Growing up in South Bend, Indiana, we also visited the Field Museum in Chicago, where I remember the mummies but not the dinosaurs. I really liked the coal mine at the Museum of Science and Industry! My father, a professor of evolutionary biology, nourished me with Colbert’s (1951) The Dinosaur Book and Roy Chapman Andrews’s (1953) All About Dinosaurs. My early experiences were very important to my formation. In consequence I always consider it a privilege when children (of any age) visit my lab or when I am invited into an elementary school to share some of the excitement of my field with them. Who knows which of them will become one of the next generation of paleontologists? I corresponded briefly with a bright fifth-grader from rural New York State years ago, met him as a freshman at his college a decade later, supervised his Ph.D. at the University of Pennsylvania, and now enjoy his collegiality at the Carnegie Museum. Matt Lamanna is certainly living proof for the need to take children seriously!

 

Part Two: Systematics and New Ceratopsians

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PAUL C. SERENO

IN 1922, WELL-PRESERVED FOSSILS of the first parrot-beaked dinosaur were discovered in Early Cretaceous horizons in the Gobi Desert of Mongolia. Now referred to a single species, Psittacosaurus mongoliensis, these remains include a growth series from hatchlings to adults. In subsequent years, 15 species have been added to the genus Psittacosaurus and a second genus, Hongshanosaurus, was recently described, all from Early Cretaceous rocks in Asia. Although the second genus and about one-half of the species attributed to Psittacosaurus are potentially invalid, Psittacosaurus remains the most species-rich dinosaurian genus, with interspecific variation concentrated in the skull and dentition. This paper reviews evidence differentiating the named genera and species of psittacosaurs, outlines major cranial changes in a growth series from hatchling to adult in Psittacosaurus mongoliensis, and provides evidence of two species groups within the genus.

 

Part Three: Anatomy, Functional Biology, and Behavior

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PETER DODSON, HAI-LU YOU, AND KYO TANOUE

THE ANATOMY OF BASAL ceratopsians has been studied for more than eight decades, but certain anatomical regions of the skull have been neglected due to problems of preservation and especially of preparation. In the past decade many new specimens of basal ceratopsians, including both psittacosaurids and basal neoceratopsians, have been discovered in China, and a number of new taxa have been described. Although the Jehol fauna is justifiably famous for its feathered theropods and birds, it is also the source of important psittacosaurid material, especially Psittacosaurus lujiatunensis and Hongshanosaurus houi, and basal neoceratopsians such as Liaoceratops yanzigouensis. The excellent preservation and preparation of this fossil material now allows for new detailed studies. We present the first detailed descriptions of the palate and basicranium of selected basal ceratopsians. A striking contrast is found between psittacosaurids and basal neoceratopsians in these regions. In caudal view the basioccipital of psittacosaurids is bilobate, while that of basal neoceratopsians is quadrilateral. The basioccipital-basisphenoid synchondrosis is exposed ventrally in psittacosaurids and is covered by the pterygoids in basal neoceratopsians. In psittacosaurids the basipterygoid processes of the sphenoid are long and directed rostrally, while those of basal neoceratopsians are shorter and directed ventrally or ventrolaterally. The central plate of the pterygoid of psittacosaurids is rostral in position at the midlength of the skull and the median joint is short, while the central plate of this element in basal neoceratopsians is caudally positioned with an elongate median joint. In psittacosaurids the vomer is nearly horizontal. The conspicuous choanae are very large, and open ventrally into the roof of the oral cavity. Air flow through the dorsally positioned naris into the nasal cavity is predominantly vertical. In basal neoceratopsians the vomer is inclined caudodorsally. The choanae are reduced to slits at the rostral end of the oral cavity, and are difficult to view due to their steep inclination. The air flow through the nasal cavity is much more nearly horizontal. Psittacosaurids exhibit a large number of autapomorphies in the nasal cavity. These and other related features add characters that provide us with new data that help us to understand the evolution of the Ceratopsia.

 

Part Four: Horned Dinosaurs in Time and Space

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Paleobiogeography, Taphonomy, and Paleoecology

 

BRENDA J. CHINNERY-ALLGEIER AND JAMES I. KIRKLAND

THE PALEOBIOGEOGRAPHY OF ceratopsian (“horned”) dinosaurs has rarely been analyzed, and usually only in the context of general dinosaur paleobiogeography. In light of new ceratopsian discoveries that have expanded both the temporal and physical ranges of higher-level clades, we review previous work and present new information about the possible dispersal events that must have occurred in this group of dinosaurs.

The earliest basalmost ceratopsians, Chaoyangsaurus and Yinlong, are known from Middle–Upper Jurassic sediments in Asia. Both Psittacosauridae and their sister group, the “frilled” neoceratopsians (represented by Archaeoceratops, Auroraceratops, Liaoceratops), occur in the Early Cretaceous (Barremian-Albian) of Asia; roughly contemporaneous, unnamed specimens are known from the Arundel, Wayan, and Cloverly formations in North America and, questionably, Australia. Members of the clade (Bagaceratops, Cerasinops, Graciliceratops, Leptoceratops, Magnirostris, Montanoceratops, Prenoceratops, and Protoceratops), as well as Yamaceratops (Eberth et al. 2009) and the poorly understood (but paleobiogeographically important) Udanoceratops, persisted into the Late Cretaceous in Asia and North America. Ceratopsids are known exclusively from the Late Cretaceous, as is Zuniceratops, the sister taxon of the clade. The similarly aged Turanoceratops is the only Asian representative of the clade and is regarded in this discussion as a ceratopsid.

 

Part Five: History of Horned Dinosaur Collection

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DARREN H. TANKE

DURING THE FALL AND WINTER OF 1919–1920 and summer of 1920, William E. Cutler, despite ill health and poor weather, succeeded in uncovering and collecting a partial ceratopsian skeleton from quarry 78 in Dinosaur Provincial Park, Alberta. At the time, Cutler was not affiliated with any professional institution, and the specimen was put into storage in Calgary awaiting a buyer. None was immediately found, and the skeleton remained in Calgary for several years. Cutler died in Africa during fieldwork in 1925; the subsequent whereabouts of his ceratopsian became unknown and the specimen was seemingly lost. Since then a number of authors have tried to relocate the specimen; all have failed, due mainly to the confusing state of affairs related to the closing of a museum Cutler was involved with and improper dispersal of its fossil collection. This article explores the tangled history and successful 2005 relocation of the longlost skeleton. The implications of this relocation are also considered.

 

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