Abstract

A cranium and other associated skeletal elements representing a new ankylosaurid dinosaur, Tatankacephalus cooneyorum gen. et sp. nov. possess several diagnostic features that indicate that this new taxon differs from the only other known ankylosaur from the Cloverly Formation, Sauropelta edwardsorum. These features include a frontoparietal dome, an enlarged nuchal ridge that obscures the occipital region, a circular orbit, ventral curvature in the posterolaterally directed paroccipital processes, a posteroventrally directed foramen magnum, and a number of features on the braincase. The phylogenetic analysis positions Tatankacephalus with Ankylosauridae based on its sharing of several characters with other members of this clade, including an enlarged nuchal segment that obscures the occiput in dorsal view, a ventrally curving lateral profile of the cranium anterior to the orbit, pyramidal postorbital boss, laterally projecting pyramidal quadratojugal boss, the presence of a postocular shelf, the presence of paranasal sinuses, and the lack of a cingulum on a maxillary (or dentary) tooth. It is considered a basal member of Ankylosauridae because it retains premaxillary teeth and a visible lateral temporal fenestra, in contrast to the absence of premaxillary teeth and an obscured lateral temporal fenestra in younger members of this clade.

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