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New carnivorous dinosaur from the Late Cretaceous of NW Patagonia and the evolution of abelisaurid theropods

Abstract

A nearly complete skeleton of the new abelisaurid Skorpiovenator bustingorryi is reported here. The holotype was found in Late Cenomanian–Early Turonian outcrops of NW Patagonia, Argentina. This new taxon is deeply nested within a new clade of South American abelisaurids, named Brachyrostra. Within brachyrostrans, the skull shortening and hyperossification of the skull roof appear to be correlated with a progressive enclosure of the orbit, a set of features possibly related to shock-absorbing capabilities. Moreover, the development of horn-like structures and differential cranial thickening appear to be convergently acquired within Abelisauridae. Based on the similarities between Skorpiovenator and carcharodontosaurid tooth morphology, we suggest that isolated teeth originally referred as post-Cenomanian Carcharodontosauridae most probably belong to abelisaurids.

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Acknowledgements

We thank C. Albornoz, M. Berrondo, J. Castro, M. Castro, N. Gonzalez, A. Moretti, J. Ochoa, M. Ripoll, M. Soto, and R. Zapata for the excavation and preparation of the specimen; J. Ochoa for his detailed drawings; A. Haluza for their useful comments in early drafts of the manuscript; J. Calvo, R. Coria, A. Kramarz, C. Muñoz and J. Powell for access to specimens under their care; R. Candeiro and A. Martinelli for providing useful pictures of theropod teeth; and Matthew Lamanna and two anonymous reviewers for the useful comments they made that improved the quality of this paper. The Municipalidad of Villa El Chocón is thanked for their constant support. Financial assistance was received from Agencia Nacional de Promoción Científica y Técnica (PICTs 13.803 and 58) and Conicet (PIP 5153).

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Correspondence to Juan I. Canale.

Additional information

Communicated by G. Mayr

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Canale, J.I., Scanferla, C.A., Agnolin, F.L. et al. New carnivorous dinosaur from the Late Cretaceous of NW Patagonia and the evolution of abelisaurid theropods. Naturwissenschaften 96, 409 (2009). https://doi.org/10.1007/s00114-008-0487-4

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Keywords

  • Patagonia
  • Cretaceous
  • Theropoda
  • Abelisauridae