Project 3281: D. C. Woodruff, T. D. Carr, G. W. Storrs, K. Waskow, J. B. Scannella, K. K. Norden, J. P. Wilson. 2018. The Smallest Diplodocid Skull Reveals Cranial Ontogeny and Growth-Related Dietary Changes in the Largest Dinosaurs. Scientific Reports. 8:14341.
Specimen: † Diplodocus (CMC:VP14128)
View: life reconstruction


Sauropod dinosaurs were the largest terrestrial vertebrates; yet despite a robust global fossil record, the paucity of cranial remains complicates attempts to understand their paleobiology. An assemblage of small diplodocid sauropods from the Upper Jurassic Morrison Formation of Montana, USA, has produced the smallest diplodocid skull yet discovered. The ~24 cm long skull is referred to cf. Diplodocus based on the presence of several cranial and vertebral characters. This specimen enhances known features of early diplodocid ontogeny including a short snout with narrow-crowned teeth limited to the anterior portion of the jaws and more spatulate teeth posteriorly. The combination of size plus basal and derived character expression seen here further emphasizes caution when naming new taxa displaying the same, as these may be indicative of immaturity. This young diplodocid reveals that cranial modifications occurred throughout growth, providing evidence for ontogenetic dietary partitioning and recapitulation of ancestral morphologies.

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Article DOI: 10.1038/s41598-018-32620-x

Project DOI: 10.7934/P3281,
This project contains
  • 1 Media
  • 1 Document
  • 1 Taxon
  • 1 Specimen
Total size of project's media files: 913.56k

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MorphoBank Project 3281
  • Creation Date:
    11 October 2018
  • Publication Date:
    30 October 2018
  • Project views: 4593

    Authors' Institutions

    • Montana State University

    • Princeton University

    • University of Toronto

    • Royal Ontario Museum

    • Rheinische Friedrich-Wilhelms-Universität Bonn (University of Bonn)

    • Museum of the Rockies

    • Carthage College

    • Cincinnati Museum Center

    • Badlands Dinosaur Museum


    member name taxa specimens media
    MorphoBank Curator
    Project Administrator
    Cary Woodruff
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