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CRICHTONSAURUS

a plant-eating ankylosaurine dinosaur from the Late Cretaceous of China.
Pronunciation: CRY-ton-SOR-us
Meaning: Crichton lizard
Author/s: Dong (2002)
Synonyms: None known
First Discovery: Liaoning Province, China
Chart Position: 419

Crichtonsaurus bohlini

Despite being armoured from snout to tailtip, many ankylosaurids don't cope well with the process of fossilization, and often look like they've had a run in with Old Father Time who beat them senseless, tore them apart and ran away with the prime fossils, leaving only their heavily fortified skull and other knobbly bits at the scene of the crime. Crichtonsaurus, however, is surprisingly well-represented when you tally up its bones; a holotype lower jaw bone with three teeth and two referred specimens, one of which is particularly handsome.

Unfortunately, Crichtonsaurus was tried in Victoria Arbour's PhD thesis in 2014 and found wanting, and it faired just as badly in the officially published version of her paper the following year. In hindsight, its holotype from the Sunjiawan Formation was in no position to be accepting further remains because it lacks diagnostic features, while neither of the referred specimens include jaw bones for comparison, so shouldn't have been assigned to it in the first place. To make matters worse, the "diagnostic characters" that Dong initially identified in 2002—small teeth, short neck vertebrae, biconcave back vertebrae with tall spines, a tail club, osteoderms and "half rings" of neck armour—are found in many other members of Ankylosauria. But there is some good news.

With Crichtonsaurus in tatters, the skeleton-less skull (BXGMV0012) of a second species—Crichtonsaurus benxiensis, which is also from the Sunjiawan Formation—was rescued and renamed Crichtonpelta in 2015 by Arbour and Currie. And they referred a skull-less skeleton (BXGMV0012-1) to it... despite a lack of confirmed overlapping parts for comparison! Apparently, its well-preserved noggin sports a suite of features not seen in any other species of armoured dinosaur, and its shoulder blade differs from the one belonging to the better "Crichtonsaurus bohlini" specimen, suggesting at least two types of armoured dinosaur shared the Sunjiawan area, and the latter will probably get a new name.
(Bohlin's Crichton lizard)Etymology
Crichtonsaurus is derived from "Crichton" (for American author Michael Crichton who wrote, amongst other books, Jurassic Park) and the Greek "sauros" (lizard).
The species epithet, bohlini, honours Birger Bohlin, a Swedish paleontologist who took part in several paleontological expeditions to China during the 1930s. He described numerous Chinese ankylosaurs, and was part of the group that established the existence of "Peking Man" (Homo erectus pekinensis).
Discovery
The remains of Crichtonsaurus were discovered in the Sunjiawan Formation (Beipiao basin) at Xiafuxiang, Beipiao, Liaoning Province, China, by Dong Zhiming in 1999.
The holotype (IVPP V12745) is a partial left lower jaw bearing three teeth, while referred specimens include two neck vertebrae and a back vertebra (IVPP V12746) and four sacral vertebrae, seven tail vertebrae, a shoulder girdle, an upper arm, a thighbone, foot bones, and various scutes and dermal armour (LPM 101).
A complete but as-yet undescribed "Crichtonsaurus bohlini" mount at the Sihetun Fossil Museum near Beipiao, China, prompted Arbour and Currie to link a Sunjiawan Formation skull to a skeleton from the same quarry, and they assigned all three to Chrichtonpelta benxiensis in 2015. A cast of this same specimen is on display at Fukui Prefecture Dinosaur Museum, Japan.
Estimations
Timeline:
Era: Mesozoic
Epoch: Late Cretaceous
Stage: Cenomanian-Turonian
Age range: 99-89 mya
Stats:
Est. max. length: 3.5 meters
Est. max. hip height: 1 meters
Est. max. weight: 500 Kg
Diet: Herbivore
References
• Z. Dong (2002) "A new armored dinosaur (Ankylosauria) from Beipiao Basin, Liaoning Province, northeastern China". Vertebrata PalAsiatica, 2002, 40(4): 276-285.
• Lü Junchang, Ji Qiang, Gao Yubo and Li Zhixin (2007) "A new species of the ankylosaurid dinosaur Crichtonsaurus (Ankylosauridae:Ankylosauria) from the Cretaceous of Liaoning Province, China". Acta Geologica Sinica (English edition) 81 (6): 883–897.
• Paul GS (2010) "The Princeton Field Guide to Dinosaurs".
• Arbour VM and Currie PJ (2015) "Systematics, phylogeny and palaeobiogeography of the ankylosaurid dinosaurs". Journal of Systematic Palaeontology 14(5): 385-444.
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To cite this page:
Atkinson, L. "CRICHTONSAURUS :: from DinoChecker's dinosaur archive".
›. Web access: 19th Aug 2017.
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