An Unusual New Theropod with a Didactyl Manus from the Upper Cretaceous of Patagonia, Argentina
Sebastián Apesteguía, Nathan D. Smith, Rubén Juárez Valieri, Peter J. Makovicky
Published: July 13, 2016 http://dx.doi.org/10.1371/journal.pone.0157793
Late Cretaceous terrestrial strata of the Neuquén Basin, northern Patagonia, Argentina have yielded a rich fauna of dinosaurs and other vertebrates. The diversity of saurischian dinosaurs is particularly high, especially in the late Cenomanian-early Turonian Huincul Formation, which has yielded specimens of rebacchisaurid and titanosaurian sauropods, and abelisaurid and carcharodontosaurid theropods. Continued sampling is adding to the known vertebrate diversity of this unit.
Methodology/ Principal Findings
A new, partially articulated mid-sized theropod was found in rocks from the Huincul Formation. It exhibits a unique combination of traits that distinguish it from other known theropods justifying erection of a new taxon, Gualicho shinyae gen. et sp. nov. Gualicho possesses a didactyl manus with the third digit reduced to a metacarpal splint reminiscent of tyrannosaurids, but both phylogenetic and multivariate analyses indicate that didactyly is convergent in these groups. Derived characters of the scapula, femur, and fibula supports the new theropod as the sister taxon of the nearly coeval African theropod Deltadromeus and as a neovenatorid carcharodontosaurian. A number of these features are independently present in ceratosaurs, and Gualicho exhibits an unusual mosaic of ceratosaurian and tetanuran synapomorphies distributed throughout the skeleton.
Gualicho shinyae gen. et sp. nov. increases the known theropod diversity of the Huincul Formation and also represents the first likely neovenatorid from this unit. It is the most basal tetatanuran to exhibit common patterns of digit III reduction that evolved independently in a number of other tetanuran lineages. A close relationship with Deltadromaeus from the Kem Kem beds of Niger adds to the already considerable biogeographic similarity between the Huincul Formation and coeval rock units in North Africa.
Citation: Apesteguía S, Smith ND, Juárez Valieri R, Makovicky PJ (2016) An Unusual New Theropod with a Didactyl Manus from the Upper Cretaceous of Patagonia, Argentina. PLoS ONE 11(7): e0157793. doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0157793
Editor: Andrew A. Farke, Raymond M. Alf Museum of Paleontology, UNITED STATES
Received: December 11, 2015; Accepted: June 2, 2016; Published: July 13, 2016
Copyright: © 2016 Apesteguía et al. This is an open access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original author and source are credited.
Data Availability: All relevant data are within the paper and its Supporting Information files.
Funding: Fieldwork was supported by funding from the Field Museum of Natural History to PJM. PJM and NDS were supported by grants from the US National Science Foundation over the course of this work (EAR 0228607; ANT 0838925; PLR 1246379; and EAR 1349554). SA was supported by the Consejo Nacional de Ciencia y Tecnologia.
Competing interests: The authors have declared that no competing interests exist.
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