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New dinosauromorph specimens from Petrified Forest National Park and a global biostratigraphic review of Triassic dinosauromorph body fossils


Dinosauromorph specimens from Petrified Forest National Park have been recovered from four major collecting efforts since 1982, including the most recent paleontological inventory of new park lands acquired in 2011. Additionally, an emphasis on understanding the stepwise acquisition of character traits along the dinosaurian lineage has helped identify previously collected specimens in museum collections. Here we briefly describe and use apomorphies to identify 32 additional dinosauromorph specimens found at Petrified Forest National Park, bringing the total number of dinosauromorph specimens presently known from the park to 50, a 600% increase since the year 2000. These specimens are all Norian in age and come from the Blue Mesa Member, Sonsela Member, and Petrified Forest Member of the Chinle Formation. These include the proximal end of a tibia that represents the oldest unambiguous dinosaur specimen from the Chinle Formation. We then contextualize these specimens with the dinosauromorph assemblages from the Norian of Utah, Colorado, New Mexico, and Texas, as well as the Carnian and Norian dinosauromorph assemblages from South America, Africa, and Europe. Despite increased sampling we still find no evidence for sauropodomorph and ornithischian dinosaurs in Western North America. An increase in sampling, combined with the use of apomorphies to identify collected specimens, will continue to improve the global dinosauromorph fossil record that can be used to answer questions on biochronology and the evolutionary history of the avian lineage.

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