Friday, September 02, 2016

Wiehenvenator albati (aka the Monster von Minden): a new Megalosaurid Theropod From Callovian Jurassic Germany


Rauhut et al


Fragmentary remains of a large, robustly built theropod dinosaur were recovered from the marine middle Callovian Ornatenton Formation of north-eastern Northrhine-Westphalia, Germany. The specimen includes a premaxilla, maxilla, lacrimal, postorbital, dentary, several caudal vertebrae, ribs, fibulae, astragalus, and partial calcaneum. It is here described as a new species of megalosauroid, Wiehenvenator albati n. gen. n. sp., diagnosed by a strongly reduced maxillary antorbital fossa on the base of the ascending process of the maxilla, a very short anterior ramus of the lacrimal with an additional pneumatic depression anteroventral to the lacrimal fenestra, a transversely expanded orbital facet in the postorbital, and a laterally flexed proximal end of the ascending process of the astragalus. Phylogenetic analysis recovers Wiehenvenator as a megalosaurine megalosaurid, sister taxon to the Late Jurassic genus Torvosaurus. It thus adds to the considerable diversity of megalosauroids in the Middle Jurassic. A time-calibrated phylogeny of theropods indicates a rapid radiation of averostran theropods between the Toarcian and the Bathonian. This radiation was probably triggered by the Pliensbachian-Toarcian extinction event, which might have been more important for theropod evolution than the Triassic-Jurassic extinction. The fossil record indicates a faunal turnover from megalosauroid dominated Middle Jurassic to allosauroid / coelurosaur dominated Late Jurassic faunas. However, differences in the Middle and Late Jurassic theropod fossil records both in respect to geographic distribution of localities, as well as sampled environments make this inference problematic, at least in respect to allosauroids. An analysis of environmental preferences of allosauroids and megalosauroids indicates that the former preferred inland environments, whereas the latter are more common in nearshore environments.

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