A juvenile Edmontosaurus from the late Maastrichtian (Cretaceous) of North America: Implications for ontogeny and phylogenetic inference in saurolophine dinosaurs

Albert Prieto-Márquez*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle (Academic Journal)peer-review

22 Citations (Scopus)

Abstract

The anatomy of an articulated juvenile specimen of the saurolophine hadrosaurid dinosaur Edmontosaurus annectens, LACM 23504, is described in detail. This individual consists of a partial skull and nearly complete articulated postcranium, collected from upper Maastrichtian strata of the Hell Creek Formation of Montana, USA. This study aims to help understand the ontogenetic morphological changes occurring in the cranium and postcranium of saurolophine hadrosaurids using E.annectens as a case study. Emphasis is placed on those morphological attributes that are ontogenetically variable via comparative osteology between the juvenile and the available adult specimens. It is observed that much of the cranial ontogenetic variation relates to the elongation of the skull and mandible. In the postcranium, most of the ontogenetic variation concentrates in the pectoral and pelvic girdles and the stylopodia. Not all the identified patterns of ontogenetic variation may be generalized to all hadrosaurids. The impact of ontogenetic variation on phylogenetically informative characters of saurolophine hadrosaurids is evaluated. It is concluded that, at least for Edmontosaurus annectens (and perhaps other saurolophine hadrosaurids), most characters used in phylogenetic inference of these animals are not affected by ontogeny. Thus, juvenile specimens are still a source of substantial character data suitable for use in phylogenetic analyses of saurolophine relationships. Nevertheless, it is recommended that ontogenetically variable characters are left as missing data in a character-taxon matrix when only juvenile material is available for a given saurolophine taxon. Scoring those characters based solely on juveniles is likely to decrease the accuracy of the phylogenetic inference.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)282-303
Number of pages22
JournalCretaceous Research
Volume50
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 2014

Keywords

  • Anatomy
  • Cretaceous
  • Dinosauria
  • Hadrosauridae
  • Ontogeny
  • Phylogenetics

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