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Data from: A new titanosaurian braincase from the Cretaceous “Lo Hueco” locality in Spain sheds light on neuroanatomical evolution within Titanosauria


Knoll, Fabien et al. (2016), Data from: A new titanosaurian braincase from the Cretaceous “Lo Hueco” locality in Spain sheds light on neuroanatomical evolution within Titanosauria, Dryad, Dataset,


Despite continuous improvements, our knowledge of the neurocranial anatomy of sauropod dinosaurs as a whole is still poor, which is especially true for titanosaurians even though their postcranial remains are common in many Upper Cretaceous sites worldwide. Here we describe a braincase from the uppermost Cretaceous locality of ‘‘Lo Hueco” in Spain that is one of the most complete titanosaurian braincases found so far in Europe. Although the titanosaurian Ampelosaurus sp. is known from the same locality, this specimen is clearly a distinct taxon and presents a number of occipital characters found in Antarctosaurus and Jainosaurus, which are approximately coeval taxa from southern Gondwana. The specimen was subjected to X-ray computed tomographic (CT) scanning, allowing the generation of 3D renderings of the endocranial cavity enclosing the brain, cranial nerves, and blood vessels, as well as the labyrinth of the inner ear. These findings add considerable knowledge to the field of sauropod paleoneuroanatomy in general and titanosaurian endocast diversity in particular. Compared with that of many sauropodomorphs, the endocast appears only slightly flexed in lateral view and bears similarities (e.g., reduction of the rostral dural expansion) with Gondwanan titanosaurians such as Jainosaurus, Bonatitan, and Antarctosaurus. The vestibular system of the inner ear is somewhat contracted (i.e., the radius of the semicircular canals is small), but less so than expected in derived titanosaurians. However, as far as the new specimen and Jainosaurus can be contrasted, and with the necessary caution due to the small sample of comparative data currently available, the two taxa appear more similar to one another in endocast morphology than to other titanosaurians. Recent phylogenetic analyses of titanosaurians have not included virtually any of the taxa under consideration here, and thus the phylogenetic position of the new Spanish titanosaurian—even its generic, let alone specific, identification—is not possible at the moment. Nevertheless, both the braincase osteology and the endocast morphology suggest that the specimen represents a derived titanosaurian that presumably branched further from the base of Lithostrotia, potentially even near Saltasauridae, comparable in evolutionary terms with Jainosaurus.

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