Geovane Alves de Souza, Marina Bento Soares, Luiz Carlos Weinschütz, Everton Wilner, Ricardo Tadeu Lopes, Olga Maria Oliveira de Araújo, Alexander Wilhelm Armin Kellner

Nov 18, 2021
Scientific reports

The recognition of ontogenetic edentulism in the Jurassic noasaurid Limusaurus inextricabilis shed new light on the dietary diversity within Ceratosauria, a stem lineage of non-avian theropod dinosaurs known for peculiar craniomandibular adaptations. Until now, edentulism in Ceratosauria was exclusive to adult individuals of Limusaurus. Here, an exceptionally complete skeleton of a new toothless ceratosaur, Berthasaura leopoldinae gen. et sp. nov., is described from the Cretaceous aeolian sandstones of the Bauru Basin, Southern Brazil. The specimen resembles adult individuals of Limusaurus by the absence of teeth but based on the unfused condition of several elements (e.g., skull, vertebral column) it clearly represents an ontogenetically immature individual, indicating that it might never have had teeth. The phylogenetic analysis performed here has nested Berthasaura leopoldinae as an early-divergent Noasauridae, not closely related to Limusaurus. It represents the most complete non-avian theropod from the Brazilian Cretaceous and preserves the most complete noasaurid axial series known so far. Moreover, the new taxon exhibits many novel osteological features, uncommon in non-avian theropods, and unprecedented even among South American ceratosaurs. These include not only toothless jaws but also a premaxilla with cutting occlusal edge, and a slightly downturned rostral tip. This indicate that B. leopoldinae unlikely had the same diet as other ceratosaurs, most being regarded as carnivorous. As the ontogenetically more mature specimens of Limusaurus, Berthasaura might have been herbivorous or at least omnivorous, corroborating with an early evolutionary divergence of noasaurids from the ceratosaurian bauplan by disparate feeding modes.

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