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Descriptive and Comparative Morphology of African Titanosaurian Sauropods: New Information on the Evolution of Cretaceous African Continental Faunas
Gorscak, Eric

2016, Doctor of Philosophy (PhD), Ohio University, Biological Sciences (Arts and Sciences).
Continental Africa has been proposed to play a significant role in the evolution and distributional patterns of continental faunas during the tectonically active Cretaceous Period. Yet, the African continental fossil record pales in comparison to other Gondwanan landmasses (e.g. South America) for providing ample evidence to inform faunal patterns and paleobiogeographical scenarios. Reflecting this unevenness, the globally successful titanosaurian sauropod dinosaurs are underrepresented in the African fossil record with a handful of named and fragmentary forms known mostly from the middle Cretaceous (Aptian–Cenomanian). New research in sub-Saharan Africa is providing critical information regarding titanosaurian diversification within the middle and Late Cretaceous and characterizing African faunas more generally. The re-evaluation of specimens from the Aptian Dinosaur Beds of Malawi reveals that materials historically associated with Malawisaurus dixeyi represents at least two distinct morphs with affinities to coeval South American forms. Further, several new specimens from the geographically proximate middle Cretaceous Galula Formation of Tanzania are distinct from the Malawi forms, suggesting higher diversity for sub-Saharan African faunas than previously apreciated. A specimen from the Mtuka Member of the Galula Formation represents one of the most complete early titanosaurian skeletons known, whereas another specimen from the Namba Member has affinities with Late Cetaceous aeolosaurian titanosaurians known from South America. Finally, titanosaurian materials from the Maastrichtian Lapurr Sandstones of Kenya and Campanian Quseir Formation of Egypt provide valuable insight for characterizing the largely unknown terminal Cretaceous African fauna. The new Kenyan form has close affinities with Late Cretaceous South American saltasaurian titanosaurians and additional caudal vertebral specimens indicate the presence of several distinct and gigantic forms that may include a non-titanosaurian sauropod—a first for this time interval globally. However, the Egyptian form appears to be closely related to Laurasian forms, supporting the interpretation of a trans-Tethys province. The diversity of African titanosaurian evolutionary history broadly paralleled that in South America during the Cretaceous but with the development of a progressively isolated sub-Saharan region concurrent with the tectonics-driven separation of the two landmasses until the Late Cretaceous when the fauna included remanent early- branching lineages not present elsewhere worldwide.
Patrick O'Connor, PhD (Advisor)
471 p.

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Gorscak, E. (2016). Descriptive and Comparative Morphology of African Titanosaurian Sauropods: New Information on the Evolution of Cretaceous African Continental Faunas. (Electronic Thesis or Dissertation). Retrieved from https://etd.ohiolink.edu/

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Gorscak, Eric. "Descriptive and Comparative Morphology of African Titanosaurian Sauropods: New Information on the Evolution of Cretaceous African Continental Faunas." Electronic Thesis or Dissertation. Ohio University, 2016. OhioLINK Electronic Theses and Dissertations Center. 13 Nov 2018.

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Gorscak, Eric "Descriptive and Comparative Morphology of African Titanosaurian Sauropods: New Information on the Evolution of Cretaceous African Continental Faunas." Electronic Thesis or Dissertation. Ohio University, 2016. https://etd.ohiolink.edu/

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Gorscak, Eric Accepted Dissertation 11-07-16 FA16.pdf (452.37 MB) View|Download