Osteological correlates preserve more readily than their soft tissue counterparts in the fossil record; therefore, they can more often provide insight into the soft tissue anatomy of the organism. These insights can in turn elucidate the biology of these extinct organisms. In this study, we reconstruct the pelvic girdle and hind limb musculature of the giant titanosaurian sauropod Dreadnoughtus schrani based on observations of osteological correlates and Extant Phylogenetic Bracket comparisons. Recovered 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 performed, rendering this contribution highly informative for the group. All 20 of the muscles investigated in this study are sufficiently well supported to enable reconstruction of at least one division, including reconstruction of the M. ischiocaudalis for the first time in a sauropod dinosaur. In total, 34 osteological correlates were identified on the pelvic girdle and hind limb remains of Dreadnoughtus, allowing the reconstruction of 14 muscles on the basis of Level I or Level II inferences (i.e., not Level I' or Level II' inferences). Comparisons among titanosaurians suggest widespread myological variation, yet potential phylogenetic and other paleobiologic patterns are often obscured by fragmentary preservation, infrequent myological studies, and lack of consensus on the phylogenetic placement of many taxa. However, a ventrolateral accessory process is present on the preacetabular lobe of the ilium in all of the largest titanosauriforms that preserve this skeletal element, suggesting that the presence of this process (representing the origin of the M. puboischiofemoralis internus part II) may be associated with extreme body size. By identifying such myological patterns among titanosauriforms, we can begin to address specific evolutionary and biomechanical questions related to their skeletal anatomy, how they were capable of leaving wide-gauge trackways, and resulting locomotor attributes unique to this clade.
All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes
- Ecology, Evolution, Behavior and Systematics
- Molecular Biology
- Developmental Biology
- Cell Biology