The braincase of apatosaurus (dinosauria: Sauropoda) based on computed tomography of a new specimen with comments on variation and evolution in sauropod neuroanatomy

Amy M. Balanoff, Gabe S. Bever, Takehito Ikejiri

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

Abstract

We describe a previously unreported braincase of the sauropod dinosaur Apatosaurus from the Cactus Park Quarry, Morrison Formation of western Colorado using high-resolution X-ray computed tomography. The digital nature of these data allowed us to prepare and describe the first three-dimensional rendering of the endocranial space in this historically important dinosaur species. Results are compared with a range of taxa drawn from across the sauropod tree revealing previously underappreciated variation in the sauropod neurocranium. Examples of variable characters include the degree of cerebral and pontine flexure, the morphology of the parietal body and superior sagittal sinus and their relationship with the overlying dermal roof, and the conformation of several cranial nerve foramina. We provide preliminary evolutionary hypotheses and discussion for many of these features. The recognition that considerable variation is present in the sauropod neurocranium hopefully will encourage more detailed descriptions of this anatomically complex region, as well as facilitating a synthetic review of the sauropodomorph braincase as these descriptions become available.

Original languageEnglish (US)
JournalAmerican Museum Novitates
Issue number3677
DOIs
StatePublished - Mar 19 2010
Externally publishedYes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • History
  • Archaeology
  • Museology

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