An aberrant island-dwelling theropod dinosaur from the Late Cretaceous of Romania
Zoltán Csiki a,1, Mátyás Vremir b, Stephen L. Brusatte c,d, and Mark A. Norell c,d
aLaboratory of Paleontology, Department of Geology and Geophysics, University of Bucharest, 1 N. Bălcescu Boulevard, Bucharest 010041, Romania;
bDepartment of Natural Sciences, Transylvanian Museum Society (EME), 2-4 Napoca Street, Cluj-Napoca 400009, Romania;
cDivision of Paleontology, American Museum of Natural History, Central Park West at 79th Street, New York, NY 10024; and
dDepartment of Earth and Environmental Sciences, Columbia University, New York, NY 10025
Edited* by Paul E. Olsen, Columbia University, Palisades, NY, and approved July 8, 2010 (received for review May 19, 2010)
Balaur bondoc - Mick Ellison; Zoltan Csiki; Matyas Vremir; Stephan Brusatte; Mark Norell; AMNH - Via Science Daily
Islands are noted for the occurrence of aberrant, endemic, and dwarfed taxa (the “island effect”). Late Cretaceous vertebrate assemblages of Romania and elsewhere in Europe are classic examples of island faunas in the fossil record, and are characterized by dwarfed herbivorous dinosaurs and other endemic taxa that are noticeably primitive relative to their mainland contemporaries. Fossils of the predators inhabiting the European paleoislands, however, are exceptionally rare and fragmentary. We describe a new dromaeosaurid theropod, based on an articulated skeleton from the Maastrichtian of Romania, which represents the most complete predatory dinosaur from the middle to Late Cretaceous of Europe. This taxon is characterized by a peculiar body plan, most notably extensive fusion in the hand and distal hindlimb, a highly retroverted pelvis with enlarged femoral muscle attachments, and a pair of hyperextensive pedal claws. However, unlike the island-dwelling herbivorous dinosaurs, its closest relatives are contemporary similar-sized Laurasian taxa, indicating faunal connections between Asia and the European islands late into the Cretaceous. This theropod provides support for the aberrant nature of the Late Cretaceous European island-dwelling dinosaurs, but indicates that predators on these islands were not necessarily small, geographically endemic, or primitive.
Dromaeosauridae endemic Europe island fauna Theropoda
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Author contributions: Z.C., M.V., S.L.B., and M.A.N. designed research; Z.C., M.V., S.L.B., and M.A.N. performed research; Z.C., S.L.B., and M.A.N. contributed new reagents/analytic tools; Z.C., M.V., S.L.B., and M.A.N. analyzed data; and Z.C., M.V., S.L.B., and M.A.N. wrote the paper.
The authors declare no conflict of interest.
*This Direct Submission article had a prearranged editor.
See Commentary on page 15310.
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