Osteology of Galeamopus pabsti sp. nov. (Sauropoda: Diplodocidae), with implications for neurocentral closure timing, and the cervico-dorsal transition in diplodocids
Emanuel Tschopp and Octávio Mateus
Diplodocids are among the best known sauropod dinosaurs. Numerous specimens of currently 15 accepted species belonging to ten genera have been reported from the Late Jurassic to Early Cretaceous of North and South America, Europe, and Africa. The highest diversity is known from the Upper Jurassic Morrison Formation of the western United States: a recent review recognized 12 valid, named species, and possibly three additional, yet unnamed ones. One of these is herein described in detail and referred to the genus Galeamopus. The holotype specimen of Galeamopus pabsti sp. nov., SMA 0011, is represented by material from all body parts but the tail, and was found at the Howe-Scott Quarry in the northern Bighorn Basin in Wyoming, USA. Autapomorphic features of the new species include a horizontal canal on the maxilla that connects the posterior margin of the preantorbital and the ventral margin of the antorbital fenestrae, a vertical midline groove marking the sagittal nuchal crest, the presence of a large foramen connecting the postzygapophyseal centrodiapophyseal fossa and the spinopostzygapophyseal fossa of mid- and posterior cervical vertebrae, a very robust humerus, a laterally placed, rugose tubercle on the concave proximal portion of the anterior surface of the humerus, a relatively stout radius, the absence of a distinct ambiens process on the pubis, and a distinctly concave posteroventral margin of the ascending process of the astragalus. In addition to the holotype specimen SMA 0011, the skull USNM 2673 can also be referred to Galeamopus pabsti. Histology shows that the type specimen SMA 0011 is sexually mature, although neurocentral closure was not completed at the time of death. Because SMA 0011 has highly pneumatized cervical vertebrae, the development of the lamination appears a more important indicator for individual age than neurocentral fusion patterns. SMA 0011 is one of very few sauropod specimens that preserves the cervico-dorsal transition in both vertebrae and ribs. The association of ribs with their respective vertebrae shows that the transition between cervical and dorsal vertebrae is significantly different in Galeamopus pabsti than in Diplodocus carnegii or Apatosaurus louisae, being represented by a considerable shortening of the centra from the last cervical to the first dorsal vertebra. Diplodocids show a surprisingly high diversity in the Morrison Formation. This can possibly be explained by a combination of geographical and temporal segregation, and niche partitioning.
Featured image © Davide Bonadonna.