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On-line version ISSN 1851-8044


GARCIA, Rodolfo A; SALGADO, Leonardo; CORIA, Rodolfo A  and  CHIAPPE, Luis M. Embryonic osteology of titanosaur sauropods from Neuquén (Argentina): ontogenetic and evolutionary considerations. Ameghiniana [online]. 2010, vol.47, n.4, pp.409-430. ISSN 1851-8044.

Titanosaur embryonic remains are described from megaloolithid eggs collected in the Anacleto Formation (Late Cretaceous) at Auca Mahuevo in Neuquén province (Argentina). These remains include complete articulate and disarticulate skulls, and numerous cranial and appendicular isolated elements. The embryonic skull is short, high, and presents numerous fenestrae, most of which are known in adult titanosaurs. However, the morphology of the maxilla and jugal is very different from that of adult titanosaurs. These elements show a series of processes that arise from their central body, which seem to have become reduced and transformed during ontogeny. The dental formula (Pm4 M7-8 /D10?) is similar to that of known adult titanosaurs. Detailed osteological study of these remains shows features of taxonomic, phylogenetic, and evolutionary significance. Several of the characters, including the snout with "stepped" anterior margin and the infratemporal fenestra extending ventrally to the orbit support the identification of the embryos as eusauropods. Other characters, such as the absence of crown denticles and the presence of a preantorbital fenestra are considered to be synapomorphies of Neosauropoda. Finally, the posteriorly wide skull and a maxillary notch at the ventral margin of the skull are regarded as synapomorphies of Titanosauria. Characters such as relatively large orbit, short rostral portion of the skull, long alveolar rows, "egg tooth", tooth crowns lacking wear facets, frontal occupying practically the entire dorsal margin of the orbit, and nonossified postcranial axial skeleton are typical characters of sauropod embryonic and juvenile stages.

Keywords : Dinosauria; Titanosauria; Embryos; Ontogenetic development; Late Cretaceous; Anacleto Formation; Auca Mahuevo; Argentina.

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