A juvenile skull of the primitive ornithischian dinosaur Heterodontosaurus tucki from the ‘Stormberg’ of southern Africa

Richard Butler, Laura B Porro, David Norman

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

31 Citations (Scopus)

Abstract

Heterodontosaurids are an enigmatic group of primitive ornithischian dinosaurs best known from the Early Jurassic of southern Africa. Because fossil material is rare and often poorly preserved, the taxonomy, systematics, and palaeobiology of this clade are controversial. Here we describe a new partial skull of a juvenile Heterodontosaurus tucki from the ‘Stormberg’ of South Africa. This skull provides new information on the cranial anatomy of this taxon as well as insights into cranial ontogeny, sexual dimorphism and tooth replacement in heterodontosaurids. Few ontogenetic changes in dental morphology occur in Heterodontosaurus, supporting previous suggestions that tooth characters are informative for species-level taxonomy in heterodontosaurids. Furthermore, the presence of well-developed caniniform teeth in the juvenile specimen does not support the hypothesis that these represent secondary sexual characteristics in heterodontosaurids. Computed tomography reveals that replacement teeth are absent in both juvenile and adult specimens of Heterodontosaurus; however, the difference in the absolute size of the teeth between the juvenile and adult specimens demonstrates that replacement must have occurred during ontogeny.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)702-711
JournalJournal of Vertebrate Paleontology
Volume28
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - Sep 2008

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