Parksosaurus (meaning "William Parks's lizard") is a genus of hypsilophodont ornithopod dinosaur from the early Maastrichtian-age Upper Cretaceous Horseshoe Canyon Formation of Alberta, Canada. It is based on most of a partially articulated skeleton and partial skull, showing it to have been a small, bipedal, herbivorous dinosaur. It is one of the few described non-hadrosaurid ornithopods from the end of the Cretaceous in North America, existing around 70 million years ago.
|Skull cast of Parksosaurus|
C. M. Sternberg, 1937
Explicit estimates of the entire size of the animal are rare; in 2010 Gregory S. Paul estimated the length at 2.5 meters, the weight at forty-five kilograms. William Parks found the hindlimb of his T. warreni to be about the same length overall as that of Thescelosaurus neglectus (93.0 centimeters (3.05 ft) for T. warreni versus 95.5 centimeters (3.13 ft) for T. neglectus), even though the shin was shorter than the thigh in T. neglectus, the opposite of T. warreni. Thus, the animal would have been comparable to the better-known Thescelosaurus in linear dimensions, despite proportional differences (around 1 meter (3.3 ft) tall at the hips, 2-2.5 meters (6.56-8.2 ft) long). The proportional differences probably would have made it lighter, though, as less weight was concentrated near the thigh. Like Thescelosaurus, it had thin partly ossified cartilaginous (intercostal) plates along the ribs. The shoulder girdle was robust. Parksosaurus had at least eighteen teeth in the maxilla and about twenty in the lower jaw; the number of teeth in the premaxilla is unknown.
Parksosaurus has been considered to be a hypsilophodont since its description. Recent reviews have dealt with it with little comment, although David B. Norman and colleagues (2004), in the framework of a paraphyletic Hypsilophodontidae, found it to be the sister taxon to Thescelosaurus, and Richard Butler and colleagues (2008) found that it may be close to the South American genus Gasparinisaura. However, basal ornithopod phylogeny is poorly known at this point, albeit under study. Like Thescelosaurus, Parksosaurus had a relatively robust hindlimb, and an elongate skull without as much of an arched shape to the forehead compared to other hypsilophodonts. A 2015 study placed it as an intermediate member of Iguanodontia more derived than Elasmaria.
Paleontologist William Parks described skeleton ROM 804 in 1926 as Thescelosaurus warreni, which had in 1922 been discovered in what was then called the Edmonton Formation near Rumsey Ferry on the Red Deer River. When found, it consisted of a partial skull missing the beak region, most of the left pectoral girdle (including a suprascapula, a bone more commonly found in lizards, but which is believed to have been present in cartilaginous form in some ornithopods due to the roughened ends of their scapulae), the left arm except the hand, ribs and sternal elements, a damaged left pelvis, right ischium, the left leg except for some toe bones, articulated vertebrae from the back, hip, and tail, and a number of ossified tendons that sheathed the end of the tail. The body of the animal had fallen on its left side, and most of the right side had been destroyed before burial; in addition, the head had been separated from the body, and the neck lost. Parks differentiated the new species from T. neglectus by leg proportions; T. warreni had a longer tibia than femur, and longer toes.
Charles M. Sternberg, upon the discovery of the specimen he named Thescelosaurus edmontonensis, revisited T. warreni and found that it warranted its own genus (it was named in an abstract, which is not typical, but the specimen had already been thoroughly described). In 1940, he presented a more thorough comparison and found a number of differences between the two genera throughout the body. He assigned Parksosaurus to the Hypsilophodontinae with Hypsilophodon and Dysalotosaurus, and Thescelosaurus to the Thescelosaurinae. The genus attracted little attention until Peter Galton began his revision of hypsilophodonts in the 1970s. Parksosaurus received a redescription in 1973, wherein it was considered to be related to a Hypsilophodon\Laosaurus\L. minimus lineage. After this, it once again returned to obscurity.
George Olshevsky emended the species name to P. warrenae in 1992, because the species name honors a woman (Mrs. H. D. Warren who financially supported the research), but outside of Internet sites, the original spelling has been preferred.
Parksosaurus is known from the base of Unit 4 of the Horseshoe Canyon Formation, which dates to about 69.5 million years ago. Other dinosaur species from this same unit include the theropods Albertosaurus sarcophagus and Albertavenator curriei as well as the spike-crested hadrosaurid Saurolophus osborni, hollow-crested hadrosaurid Hypacrosaurus altispinus, and ankylosaurid Anodontosaurus lambei. Teeth of an unidentified ceratopsian species are known from the same stratigraphic level. The dinosaurs from this formation are sometimes known as Edmontonian, after a land mammal age, and are distinct from those in the formations above and below. The Horseshoe Canyon Formation is interpreted as having a significant marine influence, due to an encroaching Western Interior Seaway, the shallow sea that covered the midsection of North America through much of the Cretaceous.
In life, Parksosaurus, as a hypsilophodont, would have been a small, swift bipedal herbivore. It would have had a moderately long neck and small head with a horny beak, short but strong forelimbs, and long powerful hindlimbs. Paul in 2010 suggested that the long toes were an adaptation for walking over mud or clay near rivers and that the strong arms were used for burrowing.
Paleontology or palaeontology is the study of prehistoric life forms on Earth through the examination of plant and animal fossils. This includes the study of body fossils, tracks (ichnites), burrows, cast-off parts, fossilised feces (coprolites), palynomorphs and chemical residues. Because humans have encountered fossils for millennia, paleontology has a long history both before and after becoming formalized as a science. This article records significant discoveries and events related to paleontology that occurred or were published in the year 1937.Albertadromeus
Albertadromeus is an extinct genus of orodromine parksosaurid dinosaur known from the upper part of the Late Cretaceous Oldman Formation (middle Campanian stage) of Alberta, Canada. It contains a single species, Albertadromeus syntarsus.Anabisetia
Anabisetia ( AH-nə-bee-SET-ee-ə) is a genus of iguanodont dinosaur from the Late Cretaceous Period of Patagonia, South America. It was a small bipedal herbivore, around 2 metres (6 ft 7 in) long.Averostra
Averostra, or "bird snouts", is a clade that includes most theropod dinosaurs that have a promaxillary fenestra (fenestra promaxillaris), an extra opening in the front outer side of the maxilla, the bone that makes up the upper jaw. Two groups of averostrans, the Ceratosauria and the Orionides, survived into the Cretaceous period. When the Cretaceous–Paleogene extinction event occurred, ceratosaurians and two groups of orionideans within the clade Coelurosauria, the Tyrannosauroidea and Maniraptoriformes, were still extant. Only one subgroup of maniraptoriformes, Aves, survived the extinction event and persisted to the present day.Avetheropoda
Avetheropoda, or "bird theropods", is a clade that includes carnosaurians and coelurosaurs to the exclusion of other dinosaurs.Cerapoda
Cerapoda ("ceratopsians and ornithopods") is a clade of the dinosaur order Ornithischia.Charles Mortram Sternberg
Charles Mortram Sternberg (1885–1981) was an American-Canadian fossil collector and paleontologist, son of Charles Hazelius Sternberg.
Late in his career, he collected and described Pachyrhinosaurus, Brachylophosaurus, Parksosaurus and Edmontonia. A contemporary author wrote, "No published study of Canadian dinosaurs is possible today without citing one or another of Sternberg's papers."Dinosauriformes
Dinosauriformes is a clade of archosaurian reptiles that include the dinosaurs and their most immediate relatives. All dinosauriformes are distinguished by several features, such as shortened forelimbs and a partially to fully perforated acetabulum, the hole in the hip socket traditionally used to define dinosaurs. The oldest known member is Asilisaurus, dating to about 245 million years ago in the Anisian age of the middle Triassic period.Horseshoe Canyon Formation
The Horseshoe Canyon Formation is a stratigraphic unit of the Western Canada Sedimentary Basin in southwestern Alberta. It takes its name from Horseshoe Canyon, an area of badlands near Drumheller.
The Horseshoe Canyon Formation is part of the Edmonton Group and is up to 230 metres (750 ft) thick. It is of Late Cretaceous age, Campanian to early Maastrichtian stage (Edmontonian Land-Mammal Age), and is composed of mudstone, sandstone, carbonaceous shales, and coal seams. A variety of depositional environments are represented in the succession, including floodplains, estuarine channels, and coal swamps, which have yielded a diversity of fossil material. Tidally-influenced estuarine point bar deposits are easily recognizable as Inclined Heterolithic Stratification (IHS). Brackish-water trace fossil assemblages occur within these bar deposits and demonstrate periodic incursion of marine waters into the estuaries.
The Horseshoe Canyon Formation crops out extensively in the area around Drumheller, as well as farther north along the Red Deer River near Trochu and along the North Saskatchewan River in Edmonton. It is overlain by the Battle, Whitemud, and Scollard formations. The Drumheller Coal Zone, located in the lower part of the Horseshoe Canyon Formation, was mined for sub-bituminous coal in the Drumheller area from 1911 to 1979, and the Atlas Coal Mine in Drumheller has been preserved as a National Historic Site. In more recent times, the Horseshoe Canyon Formation has become a major target for coalbed methane (CBM) production.
Dinosaurs found in the Horseshoe Canyon Formation include Albertavenator, Albertosaurus, Anchiceratops, Anodontosaurus, Arrhinoceratops, Atrociraptor, Epichirostenotes, Edmontonia, Edmontosaurus, Hypacrosaurus, Ornithomimus, Pachyrhinosaurus, Parksosaurus, Saurolophus, and Struthiomimus. Other finds have included mammals such as Didelphodon coyi, non-dinosaur reptiles, amphibians, fish, marine and terrestrial invertebrates and plant fossils. Reptiles such as turtles and crocodilians are rare in the Horseshoe Canyon Formation, and this was thought to reflect the relatively cool climate which prevailed at the time. A study by Quinney et al. (2013) however, showed that the decline in turtle diversity, which was previously attributed to climate, coincided instead with changes in soil drainage conditions, and was limited by aridity, landscape instability, and migratory barriers.Hypsilophodont
Hypsilophodontidae (or Hypsilophodontia) is a traditionally used family of ornithopod dinosaurs, generally considerd invalid today. It historically included taxa from across the world, and spanning from the Middle Jurassic until the Late Cretaceous. This inclusive status was supported by some phylogenetic analyses from the 1990s and mid 2000s, although there have also been many finding that the family is an unnatural grouping which should only include the type genus, Hypsilophodon, with the other genera being within clades like Thescelosauridae. A 2014 analysis by Norman recovered a grouping of Hypsilophodon, Rhabdodontidae and Tenontosaurus, which he referred to as Hypsilophodontia. All other analyses from around the same time have instead found these latter taxa to be within Iguanodontia.Jingshanosaurus
Jingshanosaurus (meaning "Jingshan lizard") is a genus of sauropodomorph dinosaurs from the early Jurassic period.Neornithischia
Neornithischia ("new ornithischians") is a clade of the dinosaur order Ornithischia. They are the sister group of the Thyreophora within the clade Genasauria. Neornithischians are united by having a thicker layer of asymmetrical enamel on the inside of their lower teeth. The teeth wore unevenly with chewing and developed sharp ridges that allowed neornithischians to break down tougher plant food than other dinosaurs. Neornithischians include a variety of basal forms historically known as "hypsilophodonts", including the Parksosauridae; in addition, there are derived forms classified in the groups Marginocephalia and Ornithopoda. The former includes clades Pachycephalosauria and Ceratopsia, while the latter typically includes Hypsilophodon and the more derived Iguanodontia.Orionides
Orionides is a clade of tetanuran theropod dinosaurs from the Middle Jurassic to the Present. The clade includes most theropod dinosaurs, including birds.Orodromeus
Orodromeus (meaning "Mountain Runner") is a genus of herbivorous parksosaurid dinosaur from the Late Cretaceous of North America.Orodrominae
Orodrominae is a subfamily of parksosaurid dinosaurs from the Cretaceous of North America and Asia.Parksosauridae
Parksosauridae is a clade or family of small ornithischians which have previously been generally allied to hypsilophodontids. Parksosauridae is often considered a synonym of Thescelosauridae, but the two groups cannot be synonyms because Parksosauridae is defined as a stem, while Thescelosauridae is defined as a node.Talenkauen
Talenkauen (meaning "small skull" in Aonikenk, referring to the proportionally small skull) is a genus of basal iguanodont dinosaur from the Cenomanian-age Late Cretaceous Cerro Fortaleza Formation, formerly known as the Pari Aike Formation of Patagonian Lake Viedma in the Austral Basin of Santa Cruz, Argentina. It is based on MPM-10001, a partial articulated skeleton missing the rear part of the skull, the tail, and the hands. Its most unusual feature is the presence of several thin mineralized plates along the sides of the ribs.Thescelosaurinae
Thescelosaurinae is a subfamily of ornithischian dinosaurs from the Early Cretaceous of Asia and the Late Cretaceous of North America.Thescelosaurus
Thescelosaurus ( THESS-il-ə-SOR-əs; ancient Greek θέσκελος-/theskelos- meaning "godlike", "marvelous", or "wondrous" and σαυρος/sauros "lizard") was a genus of small ornithopod dinosaur that appeared at the very end of the Late Cretaceous period in North America. It was a member of the last dinosaurian fauna before the Cretaceous–Paleogene extinction event around 66 million years ago. The preservation and completeness of many of its specimens indicate that it may have preferred to live near streams.
This bipedal ornithopod is known from several partial skeletons and skulls that indicate it grew to between 2.5 and 4.0 meters (8.2 to 13.1 ft) in length on average. It had sturdy hind limbs, small wide hands, and a head with an elongate pointed snout. The form of the teeth and jaws suggest a primarily herbivorous animal. This genus of dinosaur is regarded as a specialized basal ornithopod, traditionally described as a hypsilophodont, but more recently recognized as distinct from Hypsilophodon. Several species have been suggested for this genus. Three currently are recognized as valid: the type species T. neglectus, T. garbanii and T. assiniboiensis.
The genus attracted media attention in 2000, when a specimen unearthed in 1993 in South Dakota, United States, was interpreted as including a fossilized heart. There was much discussion over whether the remains were of a heart. Many scientists now doubt the identification of the object and the implications of such an identification.