Histology and Ontogeny of Pachyrhinosaurus Nasal Bosses

  • Author / Creator
    Kruk, Elizabeth A
  • 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.

  • Subjects / Keywords
  • Graduation date
    Spring 2015
  • Type of Item
  • Degree
    Master of Science
  • DOI
  • License
    This thesis is made available by the University of Alberta Libraries with permission of the copyright owner solely for non-commercial purposes. This thesis, or any portion thereof, may not otherwise be copied or reproduced without the written consent of the copyright owner, except to the extent permitted by Canadian copyright law.
  • Language
  • Institution
    University of Alberta
  • Degree level
  • Department
  • Specialization
    • Systematics and Evolution
  • Supervisor / co-supervisor and their department(s)
  • Examining committee members and their departments
    • Caldwell, Michael (Biological Sciences)
    • Gingras, Murray (Earth and Atmospheric Sciences)