|Mounted skeleton, Royal Belgian Institute of Natural Sciences|
Godefroit et al., 2003
Godefroit et al., 2003
Olorotitan was a genus of lambeosaurine duckbilled dinosaur from the middle or latest Maastrichtian-age Late Cretaceous, whose remains were found in the Udurchukan Formation beds of Kundur, Amur Region, Far Eastern Russia. The type, and only species is Olorotitan arharensis.
Discovery and naming
The holotype specimen of Olorotitan, consisting of a nearly complete skeleton, was discovered in field work in the Udurchukan Formation of Kundur in the Amur region of Russia between 1999 and 2001. Pascal Godefroit and colleagues described and named it as a new species in 2003. It was the first nearly complete dinosaur specimen to be described from Russia, and is the most complete lambeosaurine skeleton discovered anywhere outside of western North America.
Large numbers of fragmentary dinosaur, turtle, and crocodilian specimens were found in the several hundred square metre area around the discovery site. Similarly aged localities in Blagoveschensk, also from the Udurchukan Formation and Jiayin, on the Chinese side of the Amur River, have yielded similarly high numbers of lambeosaurine fossils.
Olorotitan arharensis is based on the most complete lambeosaurine skeleton found outside North America to date. It was a large hadrosaurid, comparable to other large lambeosaurines like Parasaurolophus cyrtocristatus, and may have grown up to 8 meters (26 feet) long.
It is characterized by the large hatchet-like hollow crest adorning its skull, very distinct from the crests of all of its North American relatives.
The skull itself was supported by a rather elongated neck, having eighteen vertebrae, exceeding the previous hadrosaurid maximum of fifteen. The sacrum, with 15 or 16 vertebrae, has at least 3 more vertebrae than other hadrosaurids. Further along the vertebral series, in the proximal third of the tail, there are articulations between the tips of the neural spines, making that caudal area particularly rigid; the regularity of these connections suggests that they are not due to a pathology, although more specimens are needed to be certain. Godefroit and his coauthors found through a phylogenetic analysis that it was closest to Corythosaurus and Hypacrosaurus.
As a hadrosaurid, Olorotitan would have been a bipedal/quadrupedal herbivore, eating plants with a sophisticated skull that permitted a grinding motion analogous to chewing, and was furnished with hundreds of continually-replaced teeth. Its tall, broad hollow crest, formed out of expanded skull bones containing the nasal passages, probably functioned in identification by sight and sound.
O. arharensis shared its time and place with several other types of animal, including two other lambeosaurines: the Parasaurolophus-like Charonosaurus and more basal Amurosaurus. Additionally, remains from turtles, crocodilians, theropods, and nodosaurids were found at its discovery site, and the Saurolophus-like hadrosaurine Kerberosaurus is also known from roughly contemporaneous rocks in the area. Unlike the situation in North America, where lambeosaurines are essentially absent from Late Maastrichtian rocks, Asian lambeosaurines are diverse and common at the end of the Mesozoic, suggesting climatic or ecological differences.
- Godefroit, Pascal; Bolotsky, Yuri; Alifanov, Vladimir (2003). "A remarkable hollow-crested hadrosaur from Russia: an Asian origin for lambeosaurines". Comptes Rendus Palevol. 2 (2): 143–151. doi:10.1016/S1631-0683(03)00017-4.
- Dixon, Dougal (2006). The Complete Book of Dinosaurs. London: Anness Publishing Ltd. p. 219. ISBN 0-681-37578-7.
- Godefroit, P., Bolotsky, Y.L., and Bolotsky, I.Y. 2012. Osteology and relationships of Olorotitan arharensis, a hollow−crested hadrosaurid dinosaur from the latest Cretaceous of Far Eastern Russia. Acta Palaeontologica Polonica 57 (3): 527–560.
- Horner, John R.; Weishampel, David B.; Forster, Catherine A (2004). "Hadrosauridae". In Weishampel, David B.; Dodson, Peter; Osmólska, Halszka. The Dinosauria (2nd ed.). Berkeley: University of California Press. pp. 438–463. ISBN 0-520-24209-2.
- Bolotsky, Y.L.; Godefroit, P. (2004). "A new hadrosaurine dinosaur from the Late Cretaceous of Far Eastern Russia". Journal of Vertebrate Paleontology. 24 (2): 351–365. doi:10.1671/1110.