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Dinosaur speed demon: the caudal musculature of Carnotaurus sastrei and implications for the evolution of South American abelisaurids

  • Author(s) / Creator(s)
  • In the South American abelisaurids Carnotaurus sastrei, Aucasaurus garridoi, and, to a lesser extent Skorpiovenator bustingorryi, the anterior caudal ribs project at a high dorsolateral inclination and have interlocking lateral tips. This unique morphology facilitated the expansion of the caudal hypaxial musculature at the expense of the epaxial musculature. Distinct ridges on the ventrolateral surfaces of the caudal ribs of Aucasaurus garridoi are interpreted as attachment scars from the intra caudofemoralis/ilio-ischiocaudalis septa, and confirm that the M. caudofemoralis of advanced South American abelisaurids originated from a portion of the caudal ribs. Digital muscle models indicate that, relative to its overall body size, Carnotaurus sastrei had a substantially larger M. caudofemoralis than any other theropod yet studied. In most non-avian theropods, as in many extant sauropsids, the M. caudofemoralis served as the primary femoral retractor muscle during the locomotive power stroke. This large investment in the M. caudofemoralis suggests that Carnotaurus sastrei had the potential for great cursorial abilities, particularly short-burst sprinting. However, the tightly interlocking morphology of the anterior caudal vertebrae implies a reduced ability to make tight turns. Examination of these vertebral traits in evolutionary context reveals a progressive sequence of increasing caudofemoral mass and tail rigidity among the Abelisauridae of South America.

  • Date created
    2011
  • Subjects / Keywords
  • Type of Item
    Article (Published)
  • DOI
    https://doi.org/10.7939/R3RJ49267
  • License
    © 2011 Persons & Currie. This is an open-access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original author and source are credited.
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  • Citation for previous publication
    • Persons, W.S. IV, and Currie, P.J. (2011). Dinosaur speed demon: the caudal musculature of Carnotaurus sastrei and implications for the evolution of South American abelisaurids. PLoS One, 6(10): e25763. Doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0025763.