Caenagnathidae from the upper campanian aguja formation of west texas, and a revision of the caenagnathinae

Nicholas R. Longrich, Ken Barnes, Scott Clark, Larry Millar

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53 Citations (SciVal)


Caenagnathid theropods are a relatively common part of the theropod fauna in the Late Cretaceous of Asia and North America, but have not previously been described from the southernmost United States. Here, we describe caenagnathid fossils from the late Campanian Aguja Formation of West Texas, and revise the systematics of caenagnathids from the Campanian of North America. Caenagnathids from the late Campanian of Canada represent three species in three genera: Caenagnathus collinsi, Chirostenotes pergracilis and Leptorhynchos elegans gen. nov. Leptorhynchos is diagnosed by its small size, its short, deep mandible, and the upturned tip of the beak. A single caenagnathid is known from the late Campanian of Utah, Hagryphus giganteus. Two caenagnathid species occur in the Aguja Formation, ?Chirostenotes sp. and Leptorhynchos gaddisi sp. nov. L. gaddisi differs from L. elegans in that the tip of the beak is narrower and less upturned. Phylogenetic analysis recovers Caenagnathidae and Oviraptoridae as monophyletic sister taxa. Within Caenagnathidae, the North American species seem to form a monophyletic assemblage, the Caenagnathinae, within which Chirostenotes and Caenagnathus form a clade to the exclusion of Leptorhynchos. The discovery of Chirostenotes gaddisi provides more evidence for the existence of a distinct dinosaurian fauna in southern North America during the Campanian. Furthermore, the Aguja fossils show that caenagnathids were widespread and highly diverse in the Late Cretaceous of North America. This diversity was maintained in two ways. First, variation in body size and beak shape suggests that diversity within formations is maintained by niche partitioning, in a way analogous to Darwin's finches. Second, diversity is maintained by high degree of endemism, with different species of caenagnathids occurring in different habitats.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)23-49
Number of pages27
JournalBulletin of the Peabody Museum of Natural History
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 26 Apr 2013


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