First dromaeosaur (Velociraptor relative) tooth from North Carolina hints at diversity of ‘raptors’ in southeastern North America. https://t.co/Rf1rGvjwtI #FossilFriday #dinosaurs https://t.co/xJXzFb2SeO
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During the Cretaceous period, North America was divided into two landmasses, the eastern Appalachia and western Laramidia. Recent research on several sites scattered across the eastern margin of North America has allowed for the analysis of vertebrate faunas from the once obscured terrestrial fossil record of Appalachia, revealing the landmass harbored a distinctive fauna composed of mostly relict forms. One geological unit that has produced a comparatively extensive record of terrestrial vertebrates, including non-avian dinosaurs, is the Tar Heel Formation of North Carolina. Here, I report the first definitive occurrence of a dromaeosaurid from the Tar Heel Formation in the form of a tooth from a fairly large member of that group. This tooth, like others previously discovered from the southeastern portion of North America, compares favorably with those of saurornitholestine dromaeosaurids from the western United States and Canada. The North Carolina tooth differs in morphology and size from previously reported southeastern North American dromaeosaurid teeth, but is still assignable to a saurornitholestine dromaeosaurid, evincing that the diversity of carnivorous bird-like dinosaurs in the southeastern part of North America during the Late Cretaceous may have been rather low. The tooth, which is intermediate in size between those of smaller dromaeosaurids like Saurornitholestes and gigantic forms like Dakotaraptor, helps fill the gap between larger- and smaller-bodied dromaeosaurids from the Late Cretaceous.
Have you read Cynthia Cranes thesis from 2011 yet? She also reported a Dromaeosaurid tooth from the Black Creek Group, Bladen Formation. She wrote about a new Late Cretaceous, Campanian Age site in Bladen Co, NC near Elizabethtown NC.
Thanks for your comment. I have read Crane (2011). Support in that thesis for the preliminary referral of the tooth in question to Dromaeosauridae comes from the fact that it lacks features of tyrannosaur crowns. Although a description of the tooth's anatomy is given that notes the tooth possesses some features of Dromaeosaurid crowns (e.g., distal denticles larger than mesial, ziphodonty), the figure that features the crown shows that the base of the tooth is rather unlike those of other dromaeosaurids (namely, Deinonychus, Velociraptor). Importantly, Dr. Crane only tentatively/preliminarily assigns the theropod teeth collected to specific clades, so more certain identification of those teeth must come from future work. Additionally, the site described in that thesis corresponds to the Bladen Formation, and so the description herein still is of, to my knowledge, the first reported dromaeosaurid specimen from the Tar Heel.
All this being said, I am going to cite Crane (2011) in a later version of this manuscript, as I should have done here. Thanks for your interest in my work!
Just a simple note in the introduction, you state that seven taxa have been named from Late Cretaceous North America, but only list six. I believe you are missing Hesperonychus and Bambiraptor however, which would bring the taxon count up to 8.
You are correct. I caught this error upon submission of the paper to Cretaceous Research, so it will be corrected in the final article. "Bambiraptor" is most likely a juvenile Saurornitholestes, as it is distinguishable from that taxon on the basis of one subtle feature that could easily be ontogenetically variable. Thus, I decided not to note that taxon.