Berthasaura leopoldinae: New Ceratosaur Species Unearthed in Brazil
A new genus and species of toothless noasaurid ceratosaur has been identified from an exceptionally complete skeleton found in southern Brazil.
The newly-identified dinosaur species lived in what is now Brazil during the Early Cretaceous period, between 125 and 100 million years ago.
Named Berthasaura leopoldinae, it had an estimated body length of 1 m (3.3 feet) and might never have had teeth.
The ancient creature might have been herbivorous or had, at least, omnivorous dietary preferences.
“Berthasaura leopoldinae is the first toothless non-avian theropod known from Brazil,” said senior author Dr. Alexander Kellner, a paleontologist at the Museu Nacional/Universidade Federal do Rio de Janeiro, and his colleagues.
Berthasaura leopoldinae belongs to Noasauridae, a diverse family of Cretaceous theropod dinosaurs from the group Ceratosauria.
“Ceratosauria represents one of the most widespread and diverse clade of extinct theropods,” the paleontologists said.
“Currently, three main lineages are recognized within Ceratosauria: Ceratosauridae, Abelisauridae and Noasauridae.”
“In terms of morphology, mid- to large-sized members of the Abelisauridae and Ceratosauridae are relatively better-known than the gracile small-bodied noasaurids,” they said.
“Most noasaurids consist primarily of fragmentary specimens, with few exceptionally well-preserved taxa restricted to the Malagasy species Masiakasaurus knopfleri, the Tanzanian Elaphrosaurus bambergi, and Limusaurus inextricabilis from China.”
The well-preserved skeleton of Berthasaura leopoldinae was found at a paleontological site named Cemitério dos Pterossauros Quarry in Brazil’s Paraná state.
“The Cemitério dos Pterossauros Quarry is a very interesting locality that became famous for being the first pterosaur bone-bed from Brazil, showing two quite distinct species,” the researchers said.
“Although the presence of dinosaurs was known right from the beginning of the studies concerning the specimens from this site, the first dinosaur formally described was Vespersaurus paranaensis based on several isolated or partially associated elements.”
Berthasaura leopoldinae represents the most complete known noasaurid species from Brazil.
“It also represents the most complete non-avian theropod from the Brazilian Cretaceous and preserves the most complete noasaurid axial series known so far,” the scientists said.
“Moreover, the new taxon exhibits many novel osteological features, uncommon in non-avian theropods, and unprecedented even among South American ceratosaurs.”
“These include not only toothless jaws but also a premaxilla with cutting occlusal edge, and a slightly downturned rostral tip.”
“This indicate that Berthasaura leopoldinae unlikely had the same diet as other ceratosaurs, most being regarded as carnivorous.”
“In summary, Berthasaura leopoldinae is a nearly complete and well-preserved noasaurid that possesses unique anatomical features among ceratosaurs, particularly the edentulous rostrum,” they added.
“In addition, it comprises the second report of toothlessness among non-coelurosaurian theropods, alongside the Chinese noasaurid Limusaurus inextricabilis.”
“Berthasaura leopoldinae reveals that small-body and divergence in feeding habits may have occurred together across the earlier noasaurid evolutionary history.”
A paper on the findings was published in the journal Scientific Reports.
G.A. de Souza et al. 2021. The first edentulous ceratosaur from South America. Sci Rep 11, 22281; doi: 10.1038/s41598-021-01312-4