1. Key Laboratory of Evolutionary Systematics of Vertebrates, Institute of Vertebrate Paleontology and Paleoanthropology, Chinese Academy of Sciences, Beijing 100044, China;
2. Long Hao Institute of Geology and Paleontology, Hohhot 010010, China;
3. Bureau of Land and Resources of Bayannur, Bayannur 015000, China;
4. Inner Mongolia Museum of Natural History, Hohhot 010020, China;
5. Beijing Museum of Natural History, Beijing Academy of Science and Technology, Beijing 100050, China
A presumably mostly quadrupedal ankylopollexian iguanodontian, Bayannurosaurus perfectus gen. et sp. nov., is reported here, and is represented by an excellently well-preserved skeleton from the Lower Cretaceous Bayingebi Formation of Inner Mongolia, China. The diagnosis of the taxon includes several autapomorphies, notably a dorsally directed, strap-like posterodorsal process of the jugal and a horizontally oriented preacetabular process of the ilium. The nearly complete caudal series retains eight posterior-most caudals with procoelous, trapezoidal centra in dorsal view, and the last three caudals are fully fused. The discovery of B. perfectus opens a critical new window on the early evolution and intercontinental dispersal of Iguanodontia. The skeleton displays a transitional morphology between non-hadrosauriform ankylopollexians and Hadrosauriformes. A phylogenetic analysis indicates that Bayannurosaurus is positioned higher on the tree than Hypselospinus, but below Ouranosaurus just outside of Hadrosauriformes. The tree topology of Iguanodontia with temporal and spatial constraints reveals a possible biogeographic scenario supported by the statistical dispersal-vicariance analysis: around the J/K boundary, non-hadrosauriform ankylopollexians experienced multiple dispersal events from Europe to Asia, accompanying the coeval fall of the global sea level.
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