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A new ornithopod dinosaur, Transylvanosaurus platycephalus gen. et sp. nov. (Dinosauria: Ornithischia), from the Upper Cretaceous of the Haţeg Basin, Romania

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posted on 24.11.2022, 00:20 authored by Felix J. Augustin, Dylan Bastiaans, Mihai D. Dumbravă, Zoltán Csiki-Sava

Rhabdodontid dinosaurs were a group of medium-sized iguanodontian ornithopods from the Late Cretaceous of Europe. The uppermost Cretaceous continental deposits from the Haţeg Basin of western Romania yielded a very rich assemblage of vertebrates including abundant rhabdodontid remains, which have been exclusively referred to the genus Zalmoxes thus far. Here we describe a new rhabdodontid dinosaur, Transylvanosaurus platycephalus gen. et sp. nov., from the uppermost Cretaceous of the Haţeg Basin. The holotype of the new taxon was discovered in early–late Maastrichtian strata near Pui in the eastern part of the basin and comprises the articulated basicranium and both frontals. Transylvanosaurus differs from all previously reported rhabdodontids in having particularly wide and crested frontals, elongated and straight paroccipital processes that make only a gentle lateral curve and project mostly posterolaterally, prominent and massive prootic processes that extend mainly anterolaterally and ventrally, wide and crest-like basal tubera that meet the long axis of the braincase at a very flat angle, widely splayed basipterygoid processes that extend mainly ventrolaterally and slightly anteriorly, as well as a well-developed notch on the lateral side of the basicranium that is continuous, straight, and inclined anteroventrally. Phylogenetic analyses employing two different datasets consistently recovered the new taxon within the Rhabdodontidae, at the base of the iguanodontian radiation. Based on the morphological comparisons presented herein, we propose a particularly close relationship between Transylvanosaurus and Rhabdodon from southern France, which in turn provides evidence for a more complex biogeographic history of the Rhabdodontidae than previously thought.