STL Science Center

STL Science Center

27 October 2015

Explain The Head

From Sues, et al. 2011
The chunk of rock preserving the head of Daemonosaurus is of respectable size as far as heads and fossils are concerned. One can see in the fossil that both sides are present and one is slightly better preserved than the other (my opinion is that the left side is better). The fossil was recovered from the Chinle Formation at Ghost Ranch in an area that has yielded many Coelophysis skeletons over the years. Probably the anatomical characteristic that sticks out the most right away in this fossil is the dentition of the premaxillary and maxillary. Those teeth are very noticeable even if they are not the first thing one notices because of the amount or protrusion they are afflicted with. Remarkably, the protruding teeth are not the only interesting thing about this small theropod. It is also one of the oldest basal theropods that is known to us at this time. Hailing from that Coelophysis quarry we know it is from the Triassic. Phylogenetic analysis in the description placed Daemonosaurus roughly between Eoraptor, another basal theropod, and the Tawa/Neotheropoda lines. The authors use this information to infer that the lineage of Daemonosaurus must have been one of the first theropod lines to diversify and successfully branch into multiple niches up to the end of the Triassic and leading into the Jurassic. There are many more important assertions and statements in the describing article, but in case one did not have time to read it, hopefully this short synopsis has enough information in it. I would recommend, as I always do, reading the paper and not relying solely on my interpretation as mentioned here however.

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