Digital preparation and osteology of the skull of Lesothosaurus diagnosticus (Ornithischia: Dinosauria)

Porro, L B and Witmer, L M and Barrett, P M (2015) Digital preparation and osteology of the skull of Lesothosaurus diagnosticus (Ornithischia: Dinosauria). Peer J, 3.

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Abstract

Several skulls of the ornithischian dinosaur Lesothosaurus diagnosticus (Lower Jurassic, southern Africa) are known, but all are either incomplete, deformed, or incompletely prepared. This has hampered attempts to provide a comprehensive description of skull osteology in this crucial early dinosaurian taxon. Using visualization software, computed tomographic scans of the Lesothosaurus syntypes were digitally segmented to remove matrix, and identify and separate individual cranial and mandibular bones, revealing new anatomical details such as sutural morphology and the presence of several previously undescribed elements. Together with visual inspection of exposed skull bones, these CT data enable a complete description of skull anatomy in this taxon. Comparisons with our new data suggest that two specimens previously identified as Lesothosaurus sp. (MNHN LES 17 and MNHN LES 18) probably represent additional individuals of Lesothosaurus diagnosticus.