Cranial anatomy and variation in Prosaurolophus maximus (Dinosauria: Hadrosauridae)



Prosaurolophus maximus Brown is a saurolophine hadrosaurid known from numerous complete, articulated skulls from the Dinosaur Park Formation (Campanian, Alberta, Canada) that range in size by approximately half a metre in total skull length. Therefore, it is an important taxon for understanding patterns of growth and variation in saurolophines. This study describes the cranial anatomy of P. maximus from the type locality of Dinosaur Provincial Park (Dinosaur Park Formation: Campanian) on the basis of ten articulated skulls, quantitatively examines its range of osteological variation, and provides the first hypothesized ontogenetic series for this taxon. A second species, Prosaurolophus blackfeetensis Horner, was named on the basis of geologically younger material from Montana (Two Medicine Formation: Campanian) that is diagnosed by putative morphological differences in the nasal crest. However, considerable nasal crest variation in the sample from the Dinosaur Park Formation does not permit quantitative differentiation of P. blackfeetensis from P. maximus. Furthermore, a species-level phylogenetic analysis of saurolophines that includes both P. maximus and P. blackfeetensis as originally defined recovers them as sister taxa that do not differ morphologically in the character matrix. Based on both the morphometric and phylogenetic data, this study supports the hypothesis that P. blackfeetensis is a junior synonym of P. maximus, thereby substantially increasing its temporal range to 1.6 million years, and a concomitant period of morphological stasis in this taxon. © 2013 The Linnean Society of London