A new specimen of the basal macronarian Camarasaurus (Dinosauria: Sauropoda) highlights variability and cranial allometry within the genus

D. Cary Woodruff, D. Ray Wilhite, Peter L. Larson, Matthew Eads


Camarasaurus represents one of the most common dinosaurs from North America, and certainly a contender for one of the most abundantly represented dinosaur taxa worldwide. With numerous specimens ranging the gamut of completeness and maturity, Camarasaurus would theoretically represent a neosauropodian exemplar towards better understanding intra- and interspecific variation, dimorphism, and life history development and strategies. And yet, counterintuitively, its abundance is seemingly a deterrent for active research. Herein we describe a new specimen of Camarasaurus sp. which is most notably known from a nearly complete and articulated skull. While Camarasaurus cranial material is unquestionably the most common sauropod cranial material from North America, our understanding of the total cranial morphology is limited, and largely relies on more limited and historic specimens. In addition to further illuminating the morphology and variation present in Camarasaurus crania, associated post-crania also allow for the first recognition of possible cranial allometry. The identification
of this perplexing cranial allometry in several specimens indicates that it is not a singular variation. Though this analysis was not able to source the causal mechanism, factors such as taxonomy, dimorphism, or extreme intra-/intraspecific variation are all possible considerations for future analyses. The recognition of this undocumented cranial allometry further emphasizes that despite being so numerous, there is still vast gaps in our knowledge about Camarasaurus; and this analysis further echoes that the genus is in desperate need of revision.


Camarasaurus, cranial allometry, Morrison Formation

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