A new oviraptorosaur (Dinosauria: Theropoda) from the end-Maastrichtian Hell Creek Formation of North America

Kyle L. Atkins-Weltman, D. Jade Simon, Holly N. Woodward, Gregory F. Funston, Eric Snively

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Caenagnathidae is a clade of derived, Late Cretaceous oviraptorosaurian theropods from Asia and North America. Because their remains are rare and often fragmentary, caenagnathid diversity is poorly understood. Anzu wyliei is the only caenagnathid species currently described from the late Maastrichtian Hell Creek Formation of the USA and is also among the largest and most completely preserved North American caenagnathids. Smaller, less complete caenagnathid material has long been known from the Hell Creek Formation, but it is unclear whether these are juvenile representatives of Anzu or if they represent distinct, unnamed taxa. Here, we describe a relatively small caenagnathid hindlimb from the Hell Creek Formation, and conduct osteohistological analysis to assess its maturity. Histological data and morphological differences from Anzu wyliei and other caenagnathids allow us to conclude that this specimen represents a new species of caenagnathid from the Hell Creek Formation, with a smaller adult body size than Anzu. This new taxon is also distinct from other small caenagnathid material previously described from the area, potentially indicating the coexistence of three distinct caenagnathid species in the Hell Creek Formation. These results show that caenagnathid diversity in the Hell Creek ecosystem has been underestimated.

Original languageEnglish
Article numbere0294901
JournalPLoS ONE
Issue number1 January
StatePublished - Jan 2024


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