Tuesday 10 September 2013

A new Lambeosaurine Dinosaur from the French Pyrenees.

The Lambeosaurs were a group of hollow crested Hadrosaurs (Duck-billed Dinosaurs) known from the Late Cretaceous of Asia, North America and Europe, with all previously described European species coming from the Spanish Pyrenees. The crests of Lambeosuars are highly distinctive and specific to species, and it is thought that they were able to use these to generate sounds, which could have been used for communication.

In a paper published in the journal PLoS One on 26 July 2013, Albert Prieto-Márquez of the Bayerische Staatssammlung für Paläontologie und GeologieFabio Dalla Vecchia of the Grup de Recerca del Mesozoic at the Institut Català de Paleontologia Miquel Crusafont, Rodrigo Gaete of the Museu de la Conca Dellà and Àngel Galobart also of the Grup de Recerca del Mesozoic at the Institut Català de Paleontologia Miquel Crusafont, describe a new species of Lambeosaurine Dinosuar from the Pydrenees in the Haute-Garonne Department of southern France, described as part of a wider study on European Lambeosaurine Dinosaurs.

The new species is named Canardia garonnensis, where 'Canardia' derives form the French word Canard, meaning Duck, and 'garonnensis' means 'coming from Garonne'. The species is described from fragmentary remains comprising a partial left scapula, a partial left maxilla, a left quadrate, a right prefrontal, a partial left surangular, a left humerus, a partial left scapula, a partial right pubis, a partial left sternal plate, a dentary tooth crown, a partial right dentary dental battery, an articula, a partial right prefrontal,  apartial right quadrate and a nearly complete right maxilla. The presence of two left scapulae indicates that the recovered material represents at least two specimens.

Canardia garonnensis, right maxilla in lateral (A), ventral (B), medial (C), and dorsal (D) views. Prieto-Márquez et al. (2013).

Although it's geographical origin is close to that of the Spanish Labeosaurs, Canardia garonnensis does not appear to be closely related to them. Instead it appears to be closely related to Aralosaurus tuberiferus, a species from the Aral Sea Region of Kazakhstan which is considered to be the most primitive of the Lambeosaurs, and which lacked a hollow crest (it is impossible to say if Canardia garonnensis possessed a crest from the available material). Until now all other Lambeosaurs have been considered more closely related to each-other than they are to Aralosaurus.

Canardia garonnensis, left maxilla in dorsal (A), lateral (B), and medial (E) views. Details of the lingual side of 
tooth crowns are presented in (C) and (D). 
Prieto-Márquez et al. (2013).

Europe was an archipelago of islands in the Late Cretaceous, due to the warm climate and high sea-levels of the period. All known Lambeosaurs hail from the Ibero-Armorican Island, which comprised what is now Iberia and southwest France. Lambeosaurs are also known from east Asia and North America. Both Canardia garonnensis and the Spanish specimens (which form a group of closely related species) are more closely related to east Asian species than to North American species, despite having been closer to North America geographically (the Atlantic Ocean was only beginning to open during the Cretaceous). This implies that Lambeosaurine Dinosaurs must have reached Ibero-Amorica before the Late Cretaceous, despite the fact that their fossils are only known from this time, and that they must have crossed the rest of Europe in order to do so. This study therefore implies that both the geographical and temporal range of the Lambeosaurine Dinosaurs was greater than previously thought.

Canardia garonnensis, selected cranial elements. (A) Right prefrontal in dorsal view. (B) Right postorbital in lateral view. (C) Medial view of same. (D) Lateral view of the prefrontal. (E) Medial view of same. (F) Caudal view of same. (G) Left quadrate in lateral view. (H) Rostral view of same. (I) Medial view of same. (J) Caudal view of same. 
Prieto-Márquez et al. (2013).

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