Lanasaurus scalpridens, GOW, 1975

Norman, David B., Crompton, Alfred W., Butler, Richard J., Porro, Laura B. & Charig, Alan J., 2011, The Lower Jurassic ornithischian dinosaur Heterodontosaurus tucki Crompton & Charig, 1962: cranial anatomy, functional morphology, taxonomy, and relationships, Zoological Journal of the Linnean Society 163, pp. 182-276: 239-240

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Lanasaurus scalpridens



Revised diagnosis: Maxillary tooth row that is strongly bowed inwards along its length; maxillary teeth in labial view possess a posterior ridge that is significantly more strongly developed than is the anterior ridge.

Holotype: BP/1/4244, left maxilla [ Fig. 39C View Figure 39 ; Gow, 1975: figs 1, 2, pl. 1, Hopson, 1980: fig. 2, Galton, 1986: fig. 16.6o –p, Gow, 1990: fig. 6, Weishampel & Witmer, 1990: fig. 23.2a (as Ly. angustidens   ), Norman et al., 2004c: fig. 18.2a (as Ly. angustidens   )].

Holotype horizon and locality: Upper Elliot Formation , ‘ Buck Camp’, Golden Gate Highlands National Park (28°30′S, 28°37′E; Kitching & Raath, 1984: table 1), Free State Province, South Africa. GoogleMaps  

Referred specimens: BP/1/5253, partial left maxilla, unspecified stratigraphical level, Bamboeskloof Farm (30°45′S, 27°12′E; Gow, 1990), Lady Grey, Eastern Cape Province, South Africa ( Gow, 1990: figs 1, 3–5).

NHMUK RU A100 (formerly UCL A100), partial skull, upper Elliot Formation at Paballong (30°26′S, 28°31′E; Kitching & Raath, 1984: table 1), near Mount Fletcher, Herschel district, Eastern Cape Province, South Africa [ Thulborn, 1970b: figs 1–5; Charig & Crompton, 1974: figs 4–7; Hopson, 1975: fig. 3a–b; Galton, 1986: fig 16.6n (as Abrictosaurus consors   ); Weishampel & Witmer, 1990: fig 23.2b (as A. consors   ); Smith, 1997: fig 3a, b (as A. consors   ); Norman et al., 2004c: fig 18.2b (as A. consors   )].

Discussion: Gow (1975) named La. scalpridens   on the basis of the holotype maxilla, diagnosing it on the basis of its dental morphology, the presence of a maxillary tooth row that bows medially (toward the midline) along its length, and the absence of the accessory openings within the antorbital fossa identified in Heterodontosaurus   . Gow (1975) did, however, speculate that La. scalpridens   might be represent the same taxon as A. consors   . Thulborn (1978) considered La. scalpridens   to be highly atypical for heterodontosaurids, and even questioned its heterodontosaurid affinities. Hopson (1980:94) first suggested that Lanasaurus   might be synonymous with Ly. angustidens   and was supported by Gow (1990), Weishampel & Witmer (1990), Norman et al. (2004c), and Butler et al. (2008b).

Gow (1990) did not evaluate the characters that supported his tentative reference to Abrictosaurus   ; it is however evident that they included general similarities in dental wear patterns. The assignment of Lanasaurus   to Lycorhinus   is not compelling and cannot be proven using any currently available specimens. One obvious problem with any comparison between Lanasaurus   and Lycorhinus   is their nonoverlapping holotypes, respectively: BP/1/4244 is a maxilla and SAM-PK-3606 is a dentary.

It is considered preferable to provisionally retain La. scalpridens   as a distinct and diagnosable taxon. Two potential autapomorphies of La. scalpridens   are here recognized:

1. The presence of a maxillary tooth row that is strongly bowed inwards along its length ( Gow, 1975); and

2. Maxillary teeth in lateral view possess a posterior ridge that is significantly more strongly developed than the anterior ridge.

Although Gow (1990) reported an inwardly arched tooth row in the holotype of Ly. angustidens   (SAM- PK-3606) it has not been possible to confirm this [based upon examination of a latex cast of SAM-PK- 3606 (NHMUK R8180)]. Characters that distinguish Lanasaurus   from Heterodontosaurus   and Abrictosaurus   have been discussed above.


A second specimen, the partial left maxilla (BP/1/ 5253) described by Gow (1990) and assigned by him to Ly. angustidens   is also referred to La. scalpridens   . As discussed above for the holotype of La. scalpridens, BP   /1/5253 cannot be referred to Ly. angustidens   with any confidence because it does not overlap anatomically with the holotype specimen of the latter taxon. However, BP/1/5253 does show close resemblances to BP/1/4244, the holotype of Lanasaurus   , as discussed by Gow (1990). Both maxillae share the possible autapomorphies of having a tooth row that is strongly bowed inwards along its length and teeth with posterior ridges on their lateral surfaces that are more pronounced than the anterior ridges. These maxillae share other similarities, such as the anterodorsal margin of the antorbital fossa not being sharply defined, as occurs in Heterodontosaurus   and Abrictosaurus   . Few meaningful differences occur between BP/1/5253 and BP/1/4244: the tooth row of the former is marginally more strongly curved inwards along its length and foramina cannot be recognized within the buccal emargination; both of these differences may reflect post-mortem effects rather than genuine anatomy. In light of the presence of shared potential autapomorphies, and only minor differences, referral of BP/1/5253 to Lanasaurus   appears justified.


This controversial specimen is referred, provisionally, to La. scalpridens   . The specimen has been referred to both Ly. angustidens   ( Thulborn, 1970b, 1974, 1978; Gow, 1990) and A. consors   ( Hopson, 1975; Weishampel & Witmer, 1990); however, neither can be supported (discussion above). Several right maxillary teeth of NHMUK RU A100 are well exposed in lateral view ( Fig. 38 View Figure 38 – and Thulborn, 1970b: fig. 3). These have a similar general morphology and degree of packing to Lanasaurus   and they share, with Lanasaurus   , the presence of posterior ridges on the lateral surfaces of the crowns that are more pronounced than the anterior ridges. As preserved, the right tooth row of NHMUK RU A100 is bowed inwards along its length, and curves outwards markedly at its anterior end. The curvature of the tooth row, particularly at the caudal end, is not as pronounced as in BP/1/4244, but this may be a post-mortem artefact.

In view of the fact that NHMUK RU A100 possesses one autapomorphy of La. scalpridens   , it is referred tentatively to this latter taxon. If this proves correct (by further preparation and study of NHMUK RU A100) it may demonstrate that Lanasaurus   and Lycorhinus   are distinct taxa, because the dentary of NHMUK RU A100 differs in several respects from that of Ly. angustidens   (discussion above).