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Histology and Ontogeny of Pachyrhinosaurus Nasal Bosses Open Access


Other title
Type of item
Degree grantor
University of Alberta
Author or creator
Kruk, Elizabeth A
Supervisor and department
Currie, Philip (Biological Sciences)
Examining committee member and department
Gingras, Murray (Earth and Atmospheric Sciences)
Caldwell, Michael (Biological Sciences)
Department of Biological Sciences
Systematics and Evolution
Date accepted
Graduation date
Master of Science
Degree level
Pachyrhinosaurus is a peculiar ceratopsian known only from Upper Cretaceous strata of Alberta and the North Slope of Alaska. The genus consists of three described species Pachyrhinosaurus canadensis, Pachyrhinosaurus lakustai, and Pachyrhinosaurus perotorum that are distinguishable by cranial characteristics, including parietal horn shape and orientation, absence/presence of a rostral comb, median parietal bar horns, and profile of the nasal boss. A fourth species of Pachyrhinosaurus is described herein and placed into its phylogenetic context within Centrosaurinae. This new species forms a polytomy at the crown with Pachyrhinosaurus canadensis and Pachyrhinosaurus perotorum, with Pachyrhinosaurus lakustai falling basal to that polytomy. The diagnostic features of this new species are an apomorphic, laterally curved Process 3 horns and a thick longitudinal ridge separating the supraorbital bosses. Another focus is investigating the ontogeny of Pachyrhinosaurus nasal bosses in a histological context. Previously, little work has been done on cranial histology in ceratopsians, focusing instead on potential integumentary structures, the parietals of Triceratops, and how surface texture relates to underlying histological structures. An ontogenetic series is established for the nasal bosses of Pachyrhinosaurus at both relative (subadult versus adult) and fine scale (Stages 1-5). It was demonstrated that histology alone can indicate relative ontogenetic level, but not stages of a finer scale. Through Pachyrhinosaurus ontogeny the nasal boss undergoes increased vascularity and secondary remodeling with a reduction in osteocyte lacunar density. A histological study of ceratopsian cranial elaborations was also performed to better understand the functional and developmental implications of these structures, as well to place the nasal boss of Pachyrhinosaurus into the context of ceratopsian elaborations. In centrosaurines, parietal spikes and hooks, postorbital horncores, bosses, and nasal horns are formed as outgrowths of the dermatocranium. Although the bone tissue type remains fibrolamellar across any given specimen, organization of the bone varies (cortex versus core, compact versus spongy) across cranial elaborations. However, epoccipitals (epiparietals and episquamosals) form via metaplasia. This may also be the case for epinasals in chasmosaurines, which do not form from the nasal bone, but instead fuse onto the nasal-rostral complex later in life, indicating that they are not outgrowths of the dermatocranium. Historically, cranial histology is a poorly studied component of paleohistology and is expanded upon in this thesis. The ontogeny of Pachyrhinosaurus nasal bosses is explored in a histological perspective, which gives deeper understanding to how these atypical nasal ornamentations form. New fossil reports have expanded our understanding of Pachyrhinosaurus diversity, although their relationship to each other is not entirely clear. This increased understanding has revealed interesting evolutionary patterns, such as the replacement of nasal horns with nasal bosses by the last of the centrosaurines, the Pachyrostra (Achelousaurus + Pachyrhinosaurus). Here I provide new phylogenetic, historical, and histological research that informs these topics.
Permission is hereby granted to the University of Alberta Libraries to reproduce single copies of this thesis and to lend or sell such copies for private, scholarly or scientific research purposes only. Where the thesis is converted to, or otherwise made available in digital form, the University of Alberta will advise potential users of the thesis of these terms. The author reserves all other publication and other rights in association with the copyright in the thesis and, except as herein before provided, neither the thesis nor any substantial portion thereof may be printed or otherwise reproduced in any material form whatsoever without the author's prior written permission.
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