At least two titanosaurian sauropod taxa have been discovered in the Early Cretaceous Dinosaur Beds of northern Malawi, Africa. One of these, Malawisaurus dixeyi, is represented by cranial elements, 18 cervical vertebrae, 10 dorsal vertebrae, a sacrum, 51 caudal vertebrae, 24 chevrons, pectoral elements, pelvic elements, and dermal armor, all of which are described and illustrated. The cranial elements indicate that Malawisaurus had a short, high macronarian skull. Karongasaurus gittelmani gen. et sp. nov. is more derived than Malawisaurus but is represented only by a dentary and isolated teeth. Some indeterminate vertebrae may also belong to Karongasaurus or another taxon, but not to Malawisaurus. The shape of the teeth and jaw, and the restriction of teeth toward the anterior part of the jaw in Karongasaurus are different from Malawisaurus and suggest that Karongasaurus had a long, low skull. Thus, the sauropods from the Malawi Dinosaur Beds demonstrate extreme morphological variation in titanosaurian jaws, teeth, and probably skull shape. Variation in tooth and skull morphology, because of its relevance to feeding, was likely of significance in resource partitioning among titanosaurian sauropods in the Early Cretaceous ecosystem.
Elizabeth M. Gomani. Department of Antiquities, P.O. Box 264, Lilongwe, Malawi.
KEY WORDS: Africa, Cretaceous, Karongasaurus, Malawi, Malawisaurus, Sauropod
PE Article Number: 8.1.27
Copyright: Society of Vertebrate Paleontology May 2005
Submission: 22 November 2004. Acceptance: 6 March 2005