The dinosaurs of the Early Jurassic Hanson Formation of the Central Transantarctic Mountains: phylogenetic review and synthesis

Open-File Report 2007-1047-SRP-003

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The Hanson Formation of the Central Transantarctic Mountains has yielded a diverse Early Jurassic terrestrial fauna, which includes the nearly complete theropod dinosaur, Cryolophosaurus ellioti, and a fragmentary basal sauropodomorph dinosaur. The Hanson Formation dinosaurs are important for understanding early dinosaur evolution because: 1) they preserve a mosaic of morphological traits that render them useful for interpreting poorly known parts of the dinosaur evolutionary tree; 2) they are from the Early Jurassic, a critical period in early dinosaur evolution about which knowledge is scant; and 3) they are the only known Early Jurassic dinosaurs from Antarctica, making them particularly valuable for understanding patterns of biotic interchange during this time. Recent research suggests that Cryolophosaurus belongs to a geographically widespread clade of mid-sized, Early Jurassic theropods with cranial crests that includes Dilophosaurus wetherilli, ‘Dilophosaurus’ sinensis, and Dracovenator, and renders Coelophysoidea sensu lato non-monophyletic. The Antarctic sauropodomorph represents a distinct taxon that is a member of a similarly diverse massospondylid clade. This taxon shares a number of features with more derived sauropodomorphs, and provides additional evidence for the paraphyly of Prosauropoda. The phylogenetic relationships of the Antarctic dinosaurs are also consistent with a pattern of worldwide faunal homogeneity between Early Jurassic continental biotas. Furthermore, these analyses support a “ladder-like” arrangement for basal theropod and basal sauropodomorph phylogeny, suggesting that these groups passed through “coelophysoid” and “prosauropod” stages of morphological organization early in their respective evolutionary histories.

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The dinosaurs of the Early Jurassic Hanson Formation of the Central Transantarctic Mountains: phylogenetic review and synthesis
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Open-File Report
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U.S. Geological Survey
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Reston, VA
5 p.
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Antarctica: A Keystone in a Changing World--Online Proceedings for the Tenth International Symposium on Antarctic Earth Sciences. Santa Barbara, California, U.S.A.--August 26 to September 1, 2007
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