Soft tissues are variably preserved in the fossil record with external tissues, such as skin and feathers, more frequently preserved than internal tissues (e.g. muscles). More commonly, soft tissues leave traces of their locations on bones and, for muscles, these clues can be used to reconstruct the musculature of extinct vertebrates, thereby enhancing our understanding of how these organisms moved and the evolution of their locomotor patterns. Herein we reconstruct the forelimb and shoulder girdle musculature of the giant titanosaurian sauropod Dreadnoughtus schrani based on observations of osteological correlates and dissections of taxa comprising the Extant Phylogenetic Bracket of non-avian dinosaurs (crocodilians and birds). Fossils of Dreadnoughtus exhibit remarkably well-preserved, well-developed, and extensive muscle scars. Furthermore, this taxon is significantly larger-bodied than any titanosaurian for which a myological reconstruction has previously been attempted, rendering this myological study highly informative for the clade. In total, 28 muscles were investigated in this study, for which 46 osteological correlates were identified; these osteological correlates allowed the reconstruction of 16 muscles on the basis of Level I or Level II inferences (i.e. not Level I' or Level II' inferences). Comparisons with other titanosaurians suggest widespread myological variation in the clade, although potential phylogenetic patterns are often obscured by fragmentary preservation, infrequent myological studies, and lack of consensus on the systematic position of many taxa. By identifying myological variations within the clade, we can begin to address specific evolutionary and biomechanical questions related to the locomotor evolution in these sauropods.
All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes
- Ecology, Evolution, Behavior and Systematics
- Molecular Biology
- Developmental Biology
- Cell Biology