Postcranial anatomy of Tanius sinensis Wiman, 1929 (Dinosauria; Hadrosauroidea)

University essay from Uppsala universitet/Institutionen för geovetenskaper


Tanius sinensis Wiman, 1929 was one of the first hadrosauroid or “duck-billed” taxa erected from China, indeed one of the very first non-avian dinosaur taxa to be erected based on material from the country. Since the original description by Wiman in 1929, the anatomy of T. sinensis has received relatively little attention in the literature since then. This is unfortunate given the importance of T. sinensis as a possible non-hadrosaurid hadrosauroid i.e. a member of Hadrosauroidea outside the family of Hadrosauridae, living in the Late Cretaceous, at a time when most non-hadrosaurid hadrosauroids had become replaced by the members of Hadrosauridae. To gain a better understanding of the anatomy of T. sinensis and its phylogenetic relationships, the postcranial anatomy of it is redescribed. T. sinensis is found to have a mosaic of basal traits like strongly opisthocoelous cervical vertebrae, the proximal end of scapula being dorsoventrally wider than the distal end, the positioning of the ventral apex of the supra-acetabular process of the ilium, posterodorsally to the ischial peduncle, the ratio between the proximodistal length of the metatarsal III and the mediolateral width of this element being greater than 4.5. Derived traits present in T. sinensis include curved dorsal surface of the scapula, arcuate fourth trochanter of the femur, cnemial crest of the tibia extending ventrally into the proximal half of the shaft, and the distal end of the fibula expanding into a club shape in lateral view. A potential autapomorphy is noted, being the caudal fusion of the medial and lateral condyles of the femur forming a completely enclosed “tunnel”. The body mass of the holotype of T. sinensis, is also estimated, and found to have been around 2950 kg. The phylogenetic analysis agrees with previous studies placing T. sinensis as a non-hadrosaurid hadrosauroid. Furthermore, in the phylogenetic analysis, T. sinensis is recovered as non-hadrosaurid hadrosauroid, forming a clade with Bactrosaurus johnsoni Gilmore, 1933, which shares the following unambiguous synapomorphies; the width of the orbital margin of the jugal being almost equally wide to that of the infratemporal margin of the bone; the ratio between the mediolateral width of the skull roof across the postorbitals and that across the quadrate cotyli of the paired squamosals being more than 1.20.

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