A novel form of postcranial skeletal pneumaticity in a sauropod dinosaur: Implications for the paleobiology of Rebbachisauridae

Authors
Ibiricu, Lucio Manuel; Lamanna, Matthew C.; Martinez, Ruben D. F.; Casal, Gabriel A.; Cerda, Ignacio Alejandro; Martínez, Gastón; Salgado, Leonardo
Publication Year
2017
Language
English
Format
article
Status
Published version
Description
In dinosaurs and other archosaurs, the presence of foramina connected with internal chambers in axial and appendicular bones is regarded as a robust indicator of postcranial skeletal pneumaticity (PSP). Here we analyze PSP and its paleobiological implications in rebbachisaurid diplodocoid sauropod dinosaurs based primarily on the dorsal vertebrae of Katepensaurus goicoecheai, a rebbachisaurid from the Cenomanian-Turonian (Upper Cretaceous) Bajo Barreal Formation of Patagonia, Argentina. We document a complex of interconnected pneumatic foramina and internal chambers within the dorsal vertebral transverse processes of Katepensaurus. Collectively, these structures constitute a form of PSP that has not previously been observed in sauropods, though it is closely comparable to morphologies seen in selected birds and non-avian theropods. Parts of the skeletons of Katepensaurus and other rebbachisaurid taxa such as Amazonsaurus maranhensis and Tataouinea hannibalis exhibit an elevated degree of pneumaticity relative to the conditions in many other sauropods. We interpret this extensive PSP as an adaptation for lowering the density of the skeleton, and tentatively propose that this reduced skeletal density may also have decreased the muscle energy required to move the body and the heat generated in so doing. Given that several rebbachisaurids inhabited tropical to subtropical paleolatitudes during the extreme warmth of the mid-Cretaceous, increased PSP may have better enabled these sauropods to cope with extraordinarily high temperatures. Extensive skeletal pneumaticity may have been an important innovation in Rebbachisauridae, and perhaps also in saltasaurine titanosaurs, which evolved an even greater degree of PSP. This may in turn have contributed to the evolutionary success of rebbachisaurids, which were the only diplodocoids to survive into the Late Cretaceous.
Fil: Ibiricu, Lucio Manuel. Consejo Nacional de Investigaciones Científicas y Técnicas. Centro Científico Tecnológico Conicet - Centro Nacional Patagónico. Instituto Patagónico de Geología y Paleontología; Argentina
Fil: Lamanna, Matthew C.. Carnegie Museum Of Natural History; Estados Unidos
Fil: Martinez, Ruben D. F.. Universidad Nacional de la Patagonia ; Argentina
Fil: Casal, Gabriel A.. Universidad Nacional de la Patagonia ; Argentina
Fil: Cerda, Ignacio Alejandro. Consejo Nacional de Investigaciones Científicas y Técnicas. Centro Científico Tecnológico Conicet - Patagonia Norte. Instituto de Investigación en Paleobiología y Geología; Argentina
Fil: Martínez, Gastón. Universidad Nacional de Córdoba; Argentina. Consejo Nacional de Investigaciones Científicas y Técnicas; Argentina
Fil: Salgado, Leonardo. Consejo Nacional de Investigaciones Científicas y Técnicas. Centro Científico Tecnológico Conicet - Patagonia Norte. Instituto de Investigación en Paleobiología y Geología; Argentina
Subject
AIR SAC SYSTEM
ARGENTINA
BAJO BARREAL FORMATION
CRETACEOUS
DINOSAURIA
KATEPENSAURUS
POSTCRANIAL SKELETAL PNEUMATICITY
PULMONARY SYSTEM
REBBACHISAURIDAE
Meteorología y Ciencias Atmosféricas
Ciencias de la Tierra y relacionadas con el Medio Ambiente
CIENCIAS NATURALES Y EXACTAS
Access level
Open access
License
https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc-sa/2.5/ar/
Repository
CONICET Digital (CONICET)
Institution
Consejo Nacional de Investigaciones Científicas y Técnicas
OAI Identifier
oai:ri.conicet.gov.ar:11336/62982