Acristavus is a genus of saurolophine dinosaur. Fossils have been found from the Campanian Two Medicine Formation in Montana and Wahweap Formation in Utah, United States. The type species A. gagslarsoni was named in 2011. Unlike nearly all hadrosaurids except Edmontosaurus, Acristavus lacked ornamentation on its skull. The discovery of Acristavus is paleontologically significant because it supports the position that the ancestor of all hadrosaurids did not possess cranial ornamentation, and that ornamentation was an adaptation that later arose interdependently in the subfamilies Saurolophinae and Lambeosaurinae. It is closely related to Brachylophosaurus and Maiasaura, and was assigned to a new clade called Brachylophosaurini.[1]

Temporal range: Late Cretaceous, 79 Ma
Acristavus Skull
Diagram of skull
Scientific classification
Kingdom: Animalia
Phylum: Chordata
Clade: Dinosauria
Order: Ornithischia
Suborder: Ornithopoda
Family: Hadrosauridae
Subfamily: Saurolophinae
Tribe: Brachylophosaurini
Genus: Acristavus
Gates et al., 2011

A. gagslarsoni Gates et al., 2011 (type)

Discovery and occurrence

Acristavus gagslarsoni

The holotype specimen of Acristavus, MOR 1155, was recovered at the Two Medicine Formation, in Teton County, Montana. The specimen was collected in 1999 by C. Riley Nelson in well-indurated tan colored calcareous sandstone that was deposited during the Campanian stage of the Cretaceous period, approximately 79 million years ago.[2] MOR 1155 consists of an almost complete skull with associated postcrania including eleven cervical vertebrae, three incomplete dorsal vertebrae, a proximal caudal vertebra, several dorsal ribs, the left humerus, the left ulna, the right sternal, the left pubis, the left femur, the left tibia, two left metatarsals, five left pedal phalanges and one right pedal phalanx. A second specimen UMNHVP 16607 assigned to Acristavus in 2011, was excavated from the Smokey Mountain Road locality in Middle Mudstone Member of the Wahweap Formation in Utah. It was collected by C. R. Nelson in 2000, in lithified, yellow sandstone believed to be from the same time period as the type specimen. UMNHVP 16607 consists of a partial articulated skull, including both lacrimals, a complete braincase, and a cervical vertebra.


Acristavus was first assigned to the Brachylophosaurini, in a basal position, by Gates et al. (2011). All subsequent phylogenetic analyses have confirmed this assignment. Brachylophosaurines are derived members of the group Saurolophinae. Other brachylophosaurins include Maiasaura, Brachylophosaurus, and potentially Wulagasaurus. Gates concluded that Acristavus and Maiasaura shared a sister-taxon relationship but more recent analysis by Prieto-Márquez (2013) shows that Maiasaura is more closely related to the more derived Brachylophosaurus.

The following cladogram is based on the 2013 phylogenetic analysis by Prieto-Márquez (the relationships within Lambeosaurinae and between basal hadrosauroids are not shown):[3]















Edmontosaurus annectens

Edmontosaurus regalis

PASAC-1 (Unnamed Sabinas species)



Saurolophus morrisi

Saurolophus osborni

Saurolophus angustirostris



Kritosaurus horneri

Kritosaurus navajovius

Gryposaurus latidens

Gryposaurus notabilis

Gryposaurus monumentensis

UTEP 37.7 (Unnamed Big Bend species)



Distinguishing anatomical features

A diagnosis is a statement of the anatomical features of an organism (or group) that collectively distinguish it from all other organisms. Some, but not all, of the features in a diagnosis are also autapomorphies. An autapomorphy is a distinctive anatomical feature that is unique to a given organism.

According to Gates (2011), Acristavus can be distinguished based on the following characteristics:

  • an enlarged caudodorsal brow of the postorbital and the basioccipital, which extends caudally well beyond the dorsal border of the foremen magnum to a greater extent than in other hadrosaurine species
  • a deep laterally squared frontonasal suture
  • swelling of the interdigitate suture between the prefrontal and frontal
  • a deep depression is present on the lateral surface of the postorbital jugal process



The Wahweap Formation has been radiometrically dated as being between 81 and 76 million years old.[4] During the time that Acristavus lived, the Western Interior Seaway was at its widest extent, almost completely isolating southern Laramidia off from the rest of North America. The area where dinosaurs lived included lakes, floodplains, and east-flowing rivers. The Wahweap Formation is part of the Grand Staircase region, an immense sequence of sedimentary rock layers that stretch south from Bryce Canyon National Park through Zion National Park and into the Grand Canyon. The presence of rapid sedimentation and other evidence suggests a wet, seasonal climate.[5]


Acristavus shared its paleoenvironment with other dinosaurs, such as the lambeosaur Adelolophus hutchisoni,[6] the ceratopsian Diabloceratops eatoni,[7][8] unnamed ankylosaurs and pachycephalosaurs, and the theropod Lythronax argestes, which was likely the apex predator in its ecosystem.[9] Vertebrates present in the Wahweap Formation at the time of Acristavus included freshwater fish, bowfins, abundant rays and sharks, turtles like Compsemys, crocodilians,[10] and lungfish.[11] A fair number of mammals lived in this region, which included several genera of multituberculates, cladotherians, marsupials, and placental insectivores.[12] These mammals were more primitive than those that lived in the area that is now the Kaiparowits Formation. Trace fossils are relatively abundant in the Wahweap Formation, and suggest the presence of crocodylomorphs, as well as ornithischian and theropod dinosaurs.[13] In 2010 a unique trace fossil was discovered that suggests a predator-prey relationship between dinosaurs and primitive mammals. The trace fossil includes at least two fossilized mammalian den complexes as well as associated digging grooves presumably caused by a maniraptoran dinosaur. The proximity indicates a case of probable active predation of the burrow inhabitants by the animals that made the claw marks.[14] Invertebrate activity in this formation ranged from fossilized insect burrows in petrified logs[15] to various mollusks, large crabs,[16] and a wide diversity of gastropods and ostracods.[17]

See also


  1. ^ Gates, T.A.; Horner, J.R.; Hanna, R.R.; Nelson, C.R. (2011). "New unadorned hadrosaurine hadrosaurid (Dinosauria, Ornithopoda) from the Campanian of North America". Journal of Vertebrate Paleontology. 31 (4): 798–811. doi:10.1080/02724634.2011.577854.
  2. ^ Jinnah, Z.A., Roberts, E.M., Deino, A.L., Larsen, J.S., Link, P.K. and Fanning, C.M. (2009). New 40Ar-39Ar and detrital zircon U-Pb ages for the Upper Cretaceous Wahweap and Kaiparowits formations on the Kaiparowits Plateau, Utah: implications for regional correlation, provenance and biostratigraphy. Cretaceous Research 30, 287-299.
  3. ^ Prieto-Márquez, A. (2013). "Skeletal morphology of Kritosaurus navajovius (Dinosauria:Hadrosauridae) from the Late Cretaceous of the North American south-west, with an evaluation of the phylogenetic systematics and biogeography of Kritosaurini". Journal of Systematic Palaeontology. in press. doi:10.1080/14772019.2013.77041
  4. ^ Introduction: Kaiparowits Basin Project Overview," Getty, et al. (2010); page 479.
  5. ^ Zubair A. Jinnah, #30088 (2009)Sequence Stratigraphic Control from Alluvial Architecture of Upper Cretaceous Fluvial System - Wahweap Formation, Southern Utah, U.S.A. Search and Discovery Article #30088. Posted June 16, 2009.
  6. ^ Terry A. Gates; Zubair Jinnah; Carolyn Levitt; Michael A. Getty (2014). "New hadrosaurid specimens from the lower-middle Campanian Wahweap Formation of Utah". In David A. Eberth; David C. Evans (eds.). Hadrosaurs: Proceedings of the International Hadrosaur Symposium. Indiana University Press. pp. 156–173. ISBN 978-0-253-01385-9.
  7. ^ "Diabloceratops eatoni". Natural History Museum of Utah. 2012-05-14. Retrieved 16 November 2013.
  8. ^
  9. ^ John Wesley Powell Memorial Museum display, visited April 30th, 2009
  10. ^ Thompson, Cameron R. "A preliminary report on biostratigraphy of Cretaceous freshwater rays, Wahweap Formation and John Henry Member of the Straight Cliffs Formation, southern Utah." Abstracts with Programs - Geological Society of America, vol.36, no.4, pp.91, Apr 2004
  11. ^ Orsulak, Megan et al. "A lungfish burrow in late Cretaceous upper capping sandstone member of the Wahweap Formation Cockscomb area, Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument, Utah." Abstracts with Programs - Geological Society of America, vol. 39, no. 5, pp.43, May 2007
  12. ^ Eaton, Jeffrey G; Cifelli, Richard L. "Review of Cretaceous mammalian paleontology; Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument, Utah. Abstracts with Programs - Geological Society of America, vol.37, no.7, pp.115, Oct 2005
  13. ^ Tester, Edward et al. Isolated vertebrate tracks from the Upper Cretaceous capping sandstone member of the Wahweap Formation; Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument, UtahAbstracts with Programs - Geological Society of America, vol. 39, no. 5, pp.42, May 2007
  14. ^ Simpson, Edward L.; Hilbert-Wolf, Hannah L.; Wizevich, Michael C.; Tindall, Sarah E.; Fasinski, Ben R.; Storm, Lauren P.; Needle, Mattathias D. (2010). "Predatory digging behavior by dinosaurs". Geology. 38 (8): 699–702. doi:10.1130/G31019.1.
  15. ^ De Blieux, Donald D. "Analysis of Jim's hadrosaur site; a dinosaur site in the middle Campanian (Cretaceous) Wahweap Formation of Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument (GSENM), southern Utah." Abstracts with Programs - Geological Society of America, vol. 39, no. 5, pp.6, May 2007
  16. ^ Kirkland, James Ian. "An inventory of paleontological resources in the lower Wahweap Formation (lower Campanian), southern Kaiparowits Plateau, Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument, Utah." Abstracts with Programs - Geological Society of America, vol.37, no.7, pp.114, Oct 2005.
  17. ^ Williams, Jessica A J; Lohrengel, C Frederick. Preliminary study of freshwater gastropods in the Wahweap Formation, Bryce Canyon National Park, Utah. Abstracts with Programs - Geological Society of America, vol. 39, no. 5, pp.43, May 2007

Aralosaurini is a tribe of basal lambeosaurine hadrosaurs endemic to Eurasia. It currently contains Aralosaurus (from the Aral sea of Kazakhstan) and Canardia (from Toulouse, Southern France).


Bonapartesaurus is an extinct genus of herbivorous ornithopod dinosaur belonging to Hadrosauridae, which lived in the area of the modern Argentina during the Campanian and Maastrichtian stages of the Late Cretaceous.


Brachylophosaurini is a tribe of saurolophine hadrosaurs with known material being from N. America and potentially Asia. It contains at least four taxa; Acristavus (from Montana and Utah), Brachylophosaurus (from Montana and Alberta), Maiasaura (also from Montana), and Probrachylophosaurus (also from Montana). A hadrosaur from the Amur river, Wulagasaurus, might be a member of this tribe, but this is disputed. The group was defined by Terry A. Gates and colleagues in 2011.The clade Brachylophosaurini was defined as "Hadrosaurine ornithopods more closely related to Brachylophosaurus, Maiasaura, or Acristavus than to Gryposaurus or Saurolophus".


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Laiyangosaurus ("Laiyang lizard") is a genus of saurolophine hadrosaurid from the Late Cretaceous of China. It is known from one species, L.youngi, found in the Laiyang Basin within the province of Shandong.


Lambeosaurinae is a group of crested hadrosaurid dinosaurs.


Lapampasaurus is an extinct genus of hadrosaurid known from the Late Cretaceous Allen Formation (late Campanian or early Maastrichtian stage) of La Pampa Province, Argentina. It contains a single species, Lapampasaurus cholinoi.The generic name refers to the Argentine province of La Pampa. The specific name honours the late collector José Cholino. The material includes cervical, dorsal, sacral and caudal vertebrae, the forelimb girdle, and the partial hindlimb.


Penelopognathus ("wild duck jaw") is a genus of dinosaur which lived during the Early Cretaceous. It was an iguanodont ancestral to hadrosaurids. Fossils have been found in the Bayin-Gobi Formation in what is now China. The type species, Penelopognathus weishampeli, was described by Godefroit, Li, and Shang in 2005, based on fragmentary jaw fossils.


Plesiohadros is an extinct genus of hadrosauroid dinosaur. It is known from a partial skeleton including the skull collected at Alag Teg locality, from the Campanian Djadochta Formation of southern Mongolia. The type species is Plesiohadros djadokhtaensis.


Probrachylophosaurus bergei is a species of large herbivorous brachylophosaurin hadrosaurid dinosaur known from the Late Cretaceous Campanian Judith River Formation, of Montana.

The significance of this particular hadrosaur taxon is that it is a transitional species between the genera Acristavus and Brachylophosaurus evolving from a crestless ancestor (the former genus) to its crested descendant (the latter genus) while changing the morphology of its nasal bones.


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Saurolophinae is a subfamily of hadrosaurid dinosaurs. It has since the mid-20th century generally been called the Hadrosaurinae, a group of largely non-crested hadrosaurs related to the crested sub-family Lambeosaurinae. However, the name Hadrosaurinae is based on the genus Hadrosaurus which was found in more recent studies to be more primitive than either lambeosaurines or other traditional "hadrosaurines", like Edmontosaurus and Saurolophus. As a result of this, the name Hadrosaurinae was dropped or restricted to Hadrosaurus alone, and the subfamily comprising the traditional "hadrosaurines" was renamed the Saurolophinae. Recent phylogenetic work by Hai Xing indicates that Hadrosaurus is placed within the monophyletic group containing all non-lambeosaurine hadrosaurids. Under this view, the traditional Hadrosaurinae is resurrected, with the Hadrosauridae being divided into two clades: Hadrosaurinae and Lambeosaurinae.

Saurolophinae was first defined as a clade in a 2010 phylogenetic analysis by Prieto-Márquez. Traditionally, the "crestless" branch of the family Hadrosauridae had been named Hadrosaurinae. However, the use of the term Hadrosaurinae was questioned in a comprehensive study of hadrosaurid relationships by Albert Prieto-Márquez in 2010. Prieto-Márquez noted that, though the name Hadrosaurinae had been used for the clade of mostly crestless hadrosaurids by nearly all previous studies, its type species, Hadrosaurus foulkii, has almost always been excluded from the clade that bears its name, in violation of the rules for naming animals set out by the ICZN. Prieto-Márquez (2010) defined Hadrosaurinae as only the lineage containing H. foulkii, and used the name Saurolophinae instead for the traditional grouping.The cladogram below follows Godefroit et al. (2012) analysis.

The following cladogram was recovered in the 2013 phylogenetic analysis by Prieto-Márquez (the relationships within Lambeosaurinae and between basal hadrosauroids aren't shown).


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Xuwulong is a genus of hadrosauroid dinosaur from the Early Cretaceous period. It lived during the early Cretaceous period (Aptian-Albian age) in what is now Yujingzi Basin in the Jiuquan area, Gansu Province of northwestern China. It is known from the holotype – GSGM F00001, an articulated specimen including a complete cranium, almost complete axial skeleton, and complete left pelvic girdle from Xinminpu Group. Xuwulong was named by You Hailu, Li Daqing and Liu Weichang in 2011 and the type species is Xuwulong yueluni.


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