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, 4, 2080

A New Sauropod Dinosaur From the Early Cretaceous of Tunisia With Extreme Avian-Like Pneumatization

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A New Sauropod Dinosaur From the Early Cretaceous of Tunisia With Extreme Avian-Like Pneumatization

Federico Fanti et al. Nat Commun.

Abstract

Recent interpretations of the postcranial anatomy of sauropod dinosaurs differ about pneumatic features supporting an avian-like ventilatory system; the most conservative workers reject most postcranial pneumatizations as being unambiguous evidence of abdominal air sacs. Here we describe the first articulated dinosaur skeleton from Tunisia and refer it to a new rebbachisaurid sauropod, Tataouinea hannibalis gen. et sp. nov. The Tunisian specimen shows a complex pattern of caudosacral and pelvic pneumatization--including the first report of an ischial pneumatic foramen among Dinosauria--strongly supporting the presence of abdominal air sacs. Character optimization among Rebbachisauridae indicates that in the caudal vertebrae, pneumatization of the neural arches preceded that of the centra; in the pelvis, pneumatization of the bones adjacent to the sacrum preceded that of more distal elements. Tataouinea was more closely related to European nigersaurines than to otherwise Gondwanan rebbachisaurids; this supports an Afro-European route for rebbachisaurid dispersal.

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