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Functional interpretation of spinosaurid quadrates (Dinosauria: Theropoda) from the Mid-Cretaceous of Morocco
SVPCA Conference
Platform presentation (20 minutes)
*Eric Buffetaut
Christophe Hendrickx
The Kem-Kem region of Southeastern Morocco has supplied a large number of vertebrate fossils of Lower Cenomanian age which include a great diversity of carnivorous dinosaur taxa (Sereno et al., 1996). At least six families of theropod dinosaurs have been found including the Spinosauridae represented by the genus Spinosaurus (Russel, 1996; Dal Sasso et al., 2005). Five quadrates come from this deposit and are determined to be from juvenile and adult spinosaurids. Their morphology indicates two morphotypes which may be associated with two different species of Spinosauridae.
Morphofunctional analysis of quadrate bones and their mandibular condyles has revealed that the mechanics of the lower jaw of spinosaurids was particular. The posterior parts of the mandible displaced laterally when the jaw moved downwards thanks to a helicoidal shape of the mandibular articulation of the quadrate. The spinosaurids Spinosaurus (Buffetaut & Ouaja, 2002) and Baryonyx (Charig & Milner, 1997) had a weak and short mandibular symphysis retaining some mobility between the two jaw rami. When the jaw opened, the rami moved laterally allowing the mouth and the pharynx to be widened. This jaw mechanic is present in some ornithocheiroid pterosaurs (Wellnhofer, 1980; Bennet, 2001) and living pelecanid birds which are both adapted to fish and to swallow big fishes (Bennett, 2001). Spinosaurids which were engaged in at least a partially piscivorous lifestyle (Charig & Milner, 1997; Buffetaut et al., 2004) were able to consume large fish such as coelacanths and may have fed occasionally other prey such as pterosaurs and juvenile sauropods.
London 2020