Titanosaurian sauropod dinosaurs were the most diverse and abundant large-bodied herbivores in the southern continents during the final 30 million years of the Mesozoic Era. Several titanosaur species are regarded as the most massive land-living animals yet discovered; nevertheless, nearly all of these giant titanosaurs are known only from very incomplete fossils, hindering a detailed understanding of their anatomy. Here we describe a new and gigantic titanosaur, Dreadnoughtus schrani, from Upper Cretaceous sediments in southern Patagonia, Argentina. Represented by approximately 70% of the postcranial skeleton, plus craniodental remains, Dreadnoughtus is the most complete giant titanosaur yet discovered, and provides new insight into the morphology and evolutionary history of these colossal animals. Furthermore, despite its estimated mass of about 59.3 metric tons, the bone histology of the Dreadnoughtus type specimen reveals that this individual was still growing at the time of death.
Here we report multiple lamniform shark teeth recovered from fluvial sediments in the (Campanian-Maastrichtian) Cerro Fortaleza Formation, Santa Cruz Province, Argentina. This small tooth assemblage is compared to various lamniform sharks possessing similar dental morphologies, including Archaeolamna, Cretalamna, Dwardius, Dallasiella, and Cretodus. Although the teeth share numerous morphological features with the genus Archaeolamna, including a developed neck that maintains a relatively consistent width along the base of the crown, the small sample size and incomplete nature of these specimens precludes definitive taxonomic assignment. Regardless, the discovery of selachian teeth unique from those previously described for the region broadens the known diversity of Late Cretaceous South American sharks. Additionally, the discovery of the teeth in fluvial sandstone may indicate a euryhaline paleobiology in the lamniform taxon or taxa represented by this tooth assemblage.
Current understanding of bone healing and remodelling strategies in vertebrates has traditionally relied on morphological observations through the histological analysis of thin sections. However, chemical analysis may also be used in such interpretations, as different elements are known to be absorbed and used by bone for different physiological purposes such as growth and healing. These chemical signatures are beyond the detection limit of most laboratory-based analytical techniques (e.g. scanning electron microscopy). However, synchrotron rapid scanning-X-ray fluorescence (SRS-XRF) is an elemental mapping technique that uniquely combines high sensitivity (ppm), excellent sample resolution (20-100 µm) and the ability to scan large specimens (decimetre scale) approximately 3000 times faster than other mapping techniques. Here, we use SRS-XRF combined with microfocus elemental mapping (2-20 µm) to determine the distribution and concentration of trace elements within pathological and normal bone of both extant and extinct archosaurs (Cathartes aura and Allosaurus fragilis). Results reveal discrete chemical inventories within different bone tissue types and preservation modes. Chemical inventories also revealed detail of histological features not observable in thin section, including fine structures within the interface between pathological and normal bone as well as woven texture within pathological tissue.
The study of a small sauropod trackway from the Late Cretaceous Fumanya tracksite (southern Pyrenees, Catalonia) and further comparisons with larger trackways from the same locality suggest a causative relationship between gait, gauge, and body proportions of the respective titanosaur trackmakers. This analysis, conducted in the context of scaling predictions and using geometric similarity and dynamic similarity hypotheses, reveals similar Froude numbers and relative stride lengths for both small and large trackmakers from Fumanya. Evidence for geometric similarity in these trackways suggests that titanosaurs of different sizes moved in a dynamically similar way, probably using an amble gait. The wide gauge condition reported in trackways of small and large titanosaurs implies that they possessed similar body (trunk and limbs) proportions despite large differences in body size. These results strengthen the hypothesis that titanosaurs possessed a distinctive suite of anatomical characteristics that are well reflected in their tracks and trackways.
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