Tuesday, 7 October 2014

A new species of Ankylosaurid Dinosaur from the Late Cretaceous of New Mexico.

Ankylosaurids were large, heavily armoured Ornithischian Dinosaurs, which appeared in the Early Cretaceous and persisted to the end of the period. They had bony shells comprised of fused osteoderms (bony plates that develop within the skin) that enclosed their torsos in a similar way to the shells of tortoises and turtles, but appear to have been more active, with limbs built for an upright stance and a large bony club on their tail, presumably used for defence against the large carnivores of the Cretaceous.

In a paper published in the journal PLoS One on 24 September 2014, Victoria Arbour and Michael Burns of the Department of Biological Sciences at the University of Alberta, Robert Sulivan, Spencer Lukas and Amanda Cantrell of the New Mexico Museum of Natural History and Science, Joshua Fry of the Department of Geosciences at Fort Hays State University and Thomas Suazo, also of the New Mexico Museum of Natural History and Science describe a new species of Ankylosaurid Dinosaur from the Late Cretaceous Kirtland Formation at Hunter Wash in San Juan County, New Mexico.

The new species is named Ziapelta sanjuanensis, where ‘Zia’ refers to the stylised sun on the flag of New Mexico (which is derived from the Zia sun symbol of the indigenous Zia people of the state) and ‘pelta’ means a small shield, in reference to the animals osteoderms, while ‘sanjuanensis’ means ‘from San Juan’.Ziapelta sanjuanensis is described from an largely complete skull plus two partial cervical vertebrae (neck bones) and some fragmentary osteoderms.

Ziapelta sanjuanensis, complete skull. (A) Dorsal view; (B) ventral view; (C) anterior view; (D) occipital view; and (E) left lateral view. Abbreviations: asca, anterior supraorbital caputegulum; bas, basioccipital; ch, choana; fm, foramen magnum; j, jugal; laca, lacrimal caputegulum;loca, loreal caputegulum; ltf, laterotemporal fenestra; mnca, median nasal caputegulum; nar, externalnaris; oc, occipital condyle; orb, orbit; pal, palatine; par, parietal; parocc, paroccipital process; pmx, premaxilla; psca, posterior supraorbital caputegulum; pt, pterygoid; q, quadrate; qj, quadratojugal; qjh, quadratojugal horn; snca, supranarial caputegulum; socc, supraoccipital; sqh, squamosal horn; tr, tooth row; v, vomer. Arbour et al. (2014).

Speculative life restoration of Ziapelta sanjuanensis. Sydney Mohr in Arbour et al. (2014).

See also…

The Nodosaurids were a group of Ankylosaurid Dinosaurs that differed from other members of the group in having spines, rather than bony clubs, on the ends of their tails, and additional large spines on their...

The Ankylosaurids were large armoured Dinosaurs from the Cretaceous of Europe, Asia and North America...

The 1971 Polish-Mongolian Palaeontological Expedition to the Gobi Desert unearthed a great deal of dinosaurian material, including the partial skeleton of an...

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