New data on small theropod dinosaurs from the Upper Jurassic Morrison Formation of Como Bluff, Wyoming, USA

Sebastian G. DALMAN


In 1879, Othniel C. Marsh and Arthur Lakes collected in the Upper Jurassic Morrison Formation Quarry 12 at Como Bluff, Wyoming, USA, several isolated axial and appendicular skeletal elements of small theropod dinosaurs. Since the discovery the specimens remained unnoticed for over a century. The skeletal remains of small theropods are rare at Como Bluff and throughout the Morrison Formation. Their bones are delicately constructed, so they are not as well-preserved as the bones of large-bodied theropods. The bones of small theropods described here were found mixed with isolated crocodile teeth and turtle shells. Comparison of the skeletal materials with other known theropods from the Morrison Formation reveals that some of the bones belong to a very small juvenile Allosaurus fragilis and Torvosaurus tanneri and also to a new ceratosaur taxon, here named Fosterovenator churei, whereas the other bones represent previously unidentified juvenile taxa of basal tetanuran and coelurid theropods. The discovery and description of these fossil materials is significant because they provide important information about the Upper Jurassic terrestrial fauna of Quarry 12, Como Bluff, Wyoming. The presence of previously unidentified theropod taxa in the Morrison Formation indicates that the diversity of basal tetanuran and coelurid theropods may have been much greater than previously expected. Although the fossil material here described is largely fragmentary, it is tenable that theropods of different clades co-existed in the same ecosystems at the same time and most likely competed for the same food sources.


dinosaurs; Theropoda; Upper Jurassic; Morrison Formation; Como Bluff; Wyoming; western USA

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