Abstract

The type series of Albertosaurus sarcophagus, consisting of a type (CMN 5600) and a paratype (CMN 5601) is inadequately established, since it has not been demonstrated that the specimens represent the same taxon. This problem has arisen because the original diagnostic characters have a wider distribution among Tyrannosauridae or they are in error, and both specimens consist of incomplete and damaged skulls. The type series was studied to test for the presence of diagnostic characters in the type specimen and, if so, to provide a rationale for referring the paratype to the taxon. Of the bones shared between the skulls, only five could be compared. One character, the enlarged posterior pneumatic recess of the palatine, is shared between the two specimens; this condition differs from the situation seen in other tyrannosaurids. This character provided the rationale for assessing the identity of the specimens collected from the Albertosaurus bonebed, from which one palatine was collected that exhibits the diagnostic recess. Isolated cranial bones from the bonebed were compared with those preserved in the type series to evaluate their referral to A. sarcophagus; additional characters shared between the type series and the specimens from the bonebed were identified in the maxilla, lacrimal, and palatine. This evidence supports the hypothesis that A. sarcophagus is the tyrannosaurid preserved in the bonebed. A hypothesis of the principal growth changes in the skull in A. sarcophagus, which includes the type series and bonebed material, is proposed.

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