Bonitasaura salgadoi gen. et sp. nov.: a beaked sauropod from the Late Cretaceous of Patagonia
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- Apesteguía, S. Naturwissenschaften (2004) 91: 493. doi:10.1007/s00114-004-0560-6
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Ornithischian and theropod dinosaurs were morphologically diverse during the Cretaceous. In contrast, sauropods were relatively more conservative. The anatomy of Bonitasaura salgadoi, a new 9-m titanosaurian sauropod from Upper Cretaceous beds of Patagonia, suggests that sauropod anatomical diversity would have included unexpected items. Its unusual, rectangular lower jaw possesses narrow, anteriorly restricted teeth and shows evidence of a sharp keratinous sheath over the non-dentigerous region that probably worked to guillotine plant material. This discovery definitely demonstrates that titanosaurs acquired a mandibular configuration similar to that of some basal diplodocoids, as had already been suggested by the lower jaw of the controversial genus Antarctosaurus. This oral configuration, plus the beak-like structure and the skull shape, resemble some traits more commonly seen in Laurasian ornithischians, mostly unexpressed in southern continents. A high sauropod morphological diversity seems to be in agreement with the poorly represented ornithischian clades of the southern hemisphere.