The postcranial skeleton of Vagaceratops irvinensis (Dinosauria, Ceratopsidae)


  • Robert B Holmes University of Alberta



Ceratopsia, post-cranial, dinosaur, Ornithischia


The postcranial skeleton of Vagaceratops (= Chasmosaurus) irvinensis (CMN 41357), lacking only the tail, most of the left front and left hind limbs, and portions of the pelvis, is preserved in articulation. It is one of the most complete, best articulated ceratopsid skeletons known. Both the manus and vertebral column exhibit conspicuous pathologies, possibly an indication of advanced age at the time of death. The vertebral column comprises a syncervical, six additional cervical vertebrae, and 12 dorsals. A partial synsacrum is represented by two dorsosacrals, four sacrals, two caudosacrals, and a partial third caudosacral centrum. The ribcage, although crushed, is nearly complete. The sternum is unusually wide compared with other ceratopsids. As in other chasmosaurines, the humerus bears a prominent deltopectoral crest that forms the anterior edge of the broad, rectangular proximal humeral expansion. The medial tuberosity is separated from the dorsal surface of the humerus by a distinct notch. The insertion for the latissimus dorsi is conspicuous. The deltopectoral crest extends a full half of the distance to the distal end of the humerus. Epipodials of the forelimb are relatively short compared to the corresponding propodial. The ulna has a long, distinctly triangular olecranon, broadly rounded anterolateral process, prominent medial process, and a deeply concave trochlear notch. The terminal phalanges on the fourth and fifth manual digits are relatively large, and unlike other ceratopsids have distinct distal ?articular facets. The fourth trochanter of the femur is relatively proximal in position. This study and other recent studies of ceratopsid postcrania suggest that potentially useful taxonomic variation is present in the number of dorsosacrals, size of the groove on the ventral surface of the sacrum, morphology of the last dorsal and dorsosacral ribs, morphology of the scapula and proximal expansion of the humerus, morphology of the ulna, ratio of humerus/epipodium, morphology of the fifth manual digit, and position of the fourth trochanter of the femur.


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How to Cite

Holmes, R. B. (2014). The postcranial skeleton of Vagaceratops irvinensis (Dinosauria, Ceratopsidae). Vertebrate Anatomy Morphology Palaeontology, 1, 1–21.