Tuesday, October 9, 2018

[Paleontology • 2018] Dynamoterror dynastes • A New Tyrannosaurid (Dinosauria: Theropoda) from the Upper Cretaceous Menefee Formation of New Mexico

Dynamoterror dynastes 
McDonald​, Wolfe & Dooley, 2018
Invictarx zephyri  
McDonald​ & Wolfe, 2018
Art by Brian Engh  twitter.com/GreyGriffon 

The giant tyrannosaurids were the apex predators of western North America and Asia during the close of the Cretaceous Period. Although many tyrannosaurid species are known from numerous skeletons representing multiple growth stages, the early evolution of Tyrannosauridae remains poorly known, with the well-known species temporally restricted to the middle Campanian-latest Maastrichtian (∼77–66 Ma). The recent discovery of a new tyrannosaurid, Lythronax argestes, from the Wahweap Formation of Utah provided new data on early Campanian (∼80 Ma) tyrannosaurids. Nevertheless, the early evolution of Tyrannosauridae is still largely unsampled. We report a new tyrannosaurid represented by an associated skeleton from the lower Campanian Allison Member of the Menefee Formation of New Mexico. Despite fragmentation of much of the axial and appendicular skeleton prior to discovery, the frontals, a metacarpal, and two pedal phalanges are well-preserved. The frontals exhibit an unambiguous autapomorphy and a second potential autapomorphy that distinguish this specimen from all other tyrannosaurids. Therefore, the specimen is made the holotype of the new genus and species Dynamoterror dynastes. A phylogenetic analysis places Dynamoterror dynastes in the tyrannosaurid subclade Tyrannosaurinae. Laser-scanning the frontals and creation of a composite 3-D digital model allows the frontal region of the skull roof of Dynamoterror to be reconstructed.

 Reconstructed frontal complex of Dynamoterror dynastes.
 Missing elements reconstructed based upon Teratophoneus curriei (UMNH VP 16690) (Loewen et al., 2013). 

 Dynamoterror dynastes Invictarx zephyri 
Art by Brian Engh 

Dinosauria Owen, 1842, sensu Baron, Norman & Barrett, 2017
Theropoda Marsh, 1881, sensu Baron, Norman & Barrett, 2017
Coelurosauria Huene, 1914, sensu Sereno, McAllister & Brusatte, 2005

Tyrannosauroidea Osborn, 1906,
 sensu Walker, 1964; Sereno, McAllister & Brusatte, 2005
Tyrannosauridae Osborn, 1906,
 sensu Sereno, McAllister & Brusatte, 2005
Tyrannosaurinae Osborn, 1906,
sensu Matthew & Brown, 1922; Sereno, McAllister & Brusatte, 2005

Dynamoterror dynastes gen. et sp. nov.

Holotype: UMNH VP 28348, incomplete associated skeleton including the left and right frontals, four fragmentary vertebral centra, fragments of dorsal ribs, right metacarpal II, supraacetabular crest of the right ilium, unidentifiable fragments of long bones, phalanx 2 of left pedal digit IV, and phalanx 4 of left pedal digit IV.

Etymology: Dynamoterror is derived from the transliterated Greek word dynamis (“power”) and the Latin word terror. The specific name, dynastes, is a Latin word meaning “ruler.” The intended meaning of the binomen is “powerful terror ruler.” The name also honors the binomen “Dynamosaurus imperiosus” (Osborn, 1905), a junior synonym of Tyrannosaurus rex (Osborn, 1905, 1906), but a particular childhood favorite of the lead author.

Locality: UMNH VP 28348 was collected in San Juan County, New Mexico, on land administered by the US BLM. Precise locality data are on file at UMNH and the BLM.

Horizon: UMNH VP 28348 was collected from outcrops of the Juans Lake Beds (Miller, Carey & Thompson-Rizer, 1991), upper part of the Allison Member, Menefee Formation; lower Campanian, Upper Cretaceous. Lucas et al. (2005) produced a radioisotopic date of 78.22 ± 0.26 Ma from a bentonite layer near the top of the Menefee Formation in the Gallina hogback in the eastern part of the San Juan Basin. In the part of the San Juan Basin where UMNH VP 28348 was collected, the overlying Cliff House Sandstone contains fossils of the ammonoid Baculites perplexus (Siemers & King, 1974), corresponding to between 78.0 and 78.5 Ma (Molenaar et al., 2002). According to the regional stratigraphic correlation chart of Molenaar et al. (2002), the Menefee Formation spans approximately 84.0–78.5 Ma, based upon correlations with marine biostratigraphic zones. This age range corresponds to uppermost Santonian—middle Campanian (Cohen et al., 2013).

Specific diagnosis (as for genus by monotypy): tyrannosaurine tyrannosaurid distinguished by two autapomorphies on the frontals: (1) prefrontonasal and prefrontolacrimal processes are in close proximity, separated only by a shallow notch; and (2) subrectangular, concave, laterally projecting caudal part of the postorbital suture, separated from the rostral part by a deep groove. The second autapomorphy should be treated as provisional, given the ontogenetic variation observed in this region of the frontal in other tyrannosaurids (Carr & Williamson, 2004) (see description of the lateral surface of the frontal below). In the context of the phylogenetic analysis of Carr et al. (2017), which is used herein, UMNH VP 28348 exhibits a feature that supports its affinities among derived tyrannosauroids (1561, “frontal, dorsotemporal fossa, medial extension, dorsal view: meets opposing fossa at the midline”; also present in Timurlengia euotica, Xiongguanlong baimoensis, B. sealeyi, and Tyrannosauridae), and a feature identified by Carr et al. (2017) as an unambiguous synapomorphy of “derived tyrannosaurines” (1571, “frontal, sagittal crest, form, dorsal and lateral views: present and pronounced (dorsoventrally tall), single structure”).

The description of Dynamoterror dynastes from the lower Campanian Allison Member of the Menefee Formation provides additional data on the morphology and diversity of early tyrannosaurines in Laramidia. However, additional discoveries are needed to elucidate the paleobiogeographic history of tyrannosaurines.

Andrew T. McDonald​, Douglas G. Wolfe and Alton C. Dooley Jr. 2018. A New Tyrannosaurid (Dinosauria: Theropoda) from the Upper Cretaceous Menefee Formation of New Mexico. PeerJ. 6:e5749.  DOI:  10.7717/peerj.5749
Newly Discovered Tyrant Dinosaur Stalked Ancient New Mexico 
po.st/IteAl4 via @SmithsonianMag

Andrew T. McDonald​ and Douglas G. Wolfe. 2018. A New Nodosaurid Ankylosaur (Dinosauria: Thyreophora) from the Upper Cretaceous Menefee Formation of New Mexico. PeerJ. 6:e5435.  DOI:  10.7717/peerj.5435