Ornithopod jaws from the Lower Cretaceous Eumeralla Formation, Victoria, Australia, and their implications for polar neornithischian dinosaur diversity

Ruairidh J. Duncan, Alistair R. Evans, Patricia Vickers-Rich, Thomas H. Rich, Stephen F. Poropat

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Ornithopod dinosaurs are relatively common in the Cretaceous of Australia, particularly in the state of Victoria, which has yielded five taxa to date: two from the upper Strzelecki Group (upper Barremian–lower Aptian), and three from the Eumeralla Formation (upper Aptian–upper Albian). Whereas four of these are based solely on cranial material, Diluvicursor pickeringi is represented by a partial postcranium and is the only ornithopod specimen heretofore reported from the Eric the Red West (ETRW) site. Herein, we describe nine ornithopod dentulous elements from the Eumeralla Formation: seven from ETRW, and two from nearby sites. The four ETRW maxillae are divided into three morphotypes that are morphologically compatible with Leaellynasaura amicagraphica, Atlascopcosaurus loadsi, and cf. Galleonosaurus dorisae, respectively. Although this implies that Diluvicursor might not represent a distinct taxon, this is circumstantial. The new Leaellynasaura maxillae are evidently adult exemplars, contrasting with the juvenile holotype, whereas the sole Atlascopcosaurus maxilla is more complete than all previously referred specimens; consequently, revised diagnoses of both taxa are presented. Finally, the presence in the Eumeralla Formation of cf. Galleonosaurus—otherwise known only from the upper Strzelecki Group—implies that this taxon persisted from the Barremian to the Albian, and potentially indicates remarkable environmental stability in southeast Australia during the late Early Cretaceous.

Original languageEnglish
Article numbere1946551
Number of pages25
JournalJournal of Vertebrate Paleontology
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - 10 Aug 2021

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