, Volume 103, Issue 2, pp 155-162
Date: 21 Aug 2010

Species concept in North American stegosaurs

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Abstract

The plated thyreophoran or stegosaurian dinosaur Stegosaurus armatus was named in 1877 by Marsh for fragmentary remains from the Morrison Formation (Upper Jurassic) of Colorado, USA. Subsequent discoveries from the same formation in Wyoming and Colorado (USA) have been assigned to separate stegosaurian genera and species, but most of these are no longer considered valid. More recently, a partial stegosaurian skeleton from Wyoming was named Hesperosaurus mjosi. However, the validity of this genus has been questioned recently, raising the question: how much osteological difference among stegosaur taxa is needed to separate genera from species? The question is examined vis-à-vis species and genus recognition in other dinosaurs, including iguanodonts, lambeosaurine iguanodontids, chasmosaurine ceratopsians, tyrannosaurid theropods, and diplodocid sauropods. The basis for taxonomic distinction is largely philosophical: if the species are morphologically distinct enough, they should be treated as separate genera. Based on these criteria, Hesperosaurus mjosi is a distinct taxon.

Editorial handling: Jean-Paul Billon-Bruyat & Daniel Marty.