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Evidence for high taxonomic and morphologic tyrannosauroid diversity in the Late Cretaceous (Late Campanian) of the American Southwest and a new short-skulled tyrannosaurid from the Kaiparowits formation of Utah


The fossil record of late Campanian tyrannosauroids of western North America has a geographic gap between the Northern Rocky Mountain Region (Montana, Alberta) and the Southwest (New Mexico, Utah). Until recently, diagnostic tyrannosauroids from the Southwest were unknown until the discovery of Bistahieversor sealeyi from the late Campanian of New Mexico. Here we describe an incomplete skull and postcranial skeleton of an unusual tyrannosaurid from the Kaiparowits Formation (Late Cretaceous) of Utah that represents a new genus and species, Teratophoneus curriei. Teratophoneus differs from other tyrannosauroids in having a short skull, as indicated by a short and steep maxilla, abrupt angle in the postorbital process of the jugal, laterally oriented paroccipital processes, short basicranium, and reduced number of teeth. Teratophoneus is the sister taxon of the Daspletosaurus + Tyrannosaurus clade and it is the most basal North American tyrannosaurine. The presence of Teratophoneus suggests that dinosaur faunas were regionally endemic in the west during the upper Campanian. The divergence in skull form seen in tyrannosaurines indicates that the skull in this clade had a wide range of adaptive morphotypes.

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This article is from TDC’s Ph.D. dissertation. We thank S. Modesto for providing the genus name. We thank R. Scheetz for access to the holotype of T. curriei. For access to comparative material we thank K. Shepherd (Canadian Museum of Nature); M. Norell and C. Mehling (American Museum of Natural History); P. Currie (Royal Tyrrell Museum of Palaeontology); K. Seymour (Royal Ontario Museum). TDC thanks his Ph.D. advisor, C. McGowan, and his dissertation committee (D. Currie, P. Currie, H.-D. Sues, R. Reisz) for their review of this part of his dissertation. We thank two anonymous reviewers for their comments that improved this manuscript. This work was supported in part by National Science and Engineering Research Council funding awarded to C. McGowan. We thank D. Pulerà for the carbon dust illustrations. We also thank S. Brusatte for his assistance with formatting.

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Correspondence to Thomas D. Carr.

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Communicated by Robert Reisz

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Carr, T.D., Williamson, T.E., Britt, B.B. et al. Evidence for high taxonomic and morphologic tyrannosauroid diversity in the Late Cretaceous (Late Campanian) of the American Southwest and a new short-skulled tyrannosaurid from the Kaiparowits formation of Utah. Naturwissenschaften 98, 241–246 (2011).

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