Neurocranial osteology and neuroanatomy of a late Cretaceous titanosaurian sauropod from Spain (Ampelosaurus sp.).PLoS One. 2013; 8(1):e54991.Plos
Titanosaurians were a flourishing group of sauropod dinosaurs during Cretaceous times. Fossils of titanosaurians have been found on all continents and their remains are abundant in a number of Late Cretaceous sites. Nonetheless, the cranial anatomy of titanosaurians is still very poorly known. The Spanish latest Cretaceous locality of "Lo Hueco" yielded a relatively well preserved, titanosaurian braincase, which shares a number of phylogenetically restricted characters with Ampelosaurus atacis from France such as a flat occipital region. However, it appears to differ from A. atacis in some traits such as the greater degree of dorsoventral compression and the presence of proatlas facets. The specimen is, therefore, provisionally identified as Ampelosaurus sp. It was CT scanned, and 3D renderings of the cranial endocast and inner-ear system were generated. Our investigation highlights that, although titanosaurs were derived sauropods with a successful evolutionary history, they present a remarkably modest level of paleoneurological organization. Compared with the condition in the basal titanosauriform Giraffatitan brancai, the labyrinth of Ampelosaurus sp. shows a reduced morphology. The latter feature is possibly related to a restricted range of head-turning movements.