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an archaic abelisaurid theropod dinosaur from the Early Cretaceous of Niger.
Pronunciation: CRIP-tops
Meaning: Hidden face
Author/s: Sereno and Brusatte (2008)
Synonyms: None known
First Discovery: Ténéré Desert, Niger
Chart Position: 538

Kryptops palaios

Kryptops palaios, discovered along with Eocarcharia dinops during a 2008 Sereno-led expedition to Niger's Ténéré Desert, are the most archaic members of Abelisauridae and so proved two things: (1) this particular family of theropod dinosaurs were blessed with fugliness from the get go and (2) their comically short arms have never been any longer.

Vessel tracks and divets in the face of Kryptops hint at the presence of a tight-fitting, gnarly keratin "mask" and, because of their modestly-sized teeth, some experts have suggested that they may have been more suited to gnawing on a real predator's rotting cast-offs rather than hunting for themselves. However, there are few carnivorous scavengers that don't also hunt, and fewer hunters that won't also scavenge. Meat that doesn't fight back is as good as any other kind, and if it's already dead so much the better.

For a long time, the absence of abelisaurid fossils in Africa and their presence in the other countries of former Gondwana-land (South America, India and Madagascar) was held up as proof that these land masses began to separate around 140 million years ago with Africa becoming completely isolated in a mid Atlantic seaway by 120 mya. Kryptops scythed a fair old chunk off of that estimation by getting itself discovered in Cretaceous African deposits dated to around 112 mya, which would have been glorious news. However, the presence of fellow abelisaurid Rugops primus in Africa during the Cenomanian period and its closest relatives in same aged deposits of South America, and ditto for crocodylians, had already trimmed another 13 million years off of that date, suggesting the continents were still joined, though perhaps only by intermittent land bridges, as recently as 95 million years ago.

So, Kryptops added nothing to our knowledge of the fragmentation of Gondwana, but it took solace from being the oldest confirmed abelisaurid known from any continent. Then Matt Carrano accused it of being a chimera—a hotchpotch of several different species—because its skeletal fossils were found some 15 meters from the holotype skull and the pelvic remnants inparticular seem suspiciously carcharodontosaurid-like, with the sympatric Eocarcharia the obvious candidate for ownership.
(Old hidden face)Etymology
Kryptops is derived from the Greek "krypto" (hidden) and "ops" (face), which refers to the possibility of its face being completely hidden behind a keratin "mask".
The species epithet, palaios, literally means "old" in Greek, referring to its Early Cretaceous age.
The remains of Kryptops were discovered by Paul Sereno in the Elrhaz Formation at "Gadoufaoua" (meaning "the place where camels fear to go"), on the western edge of the Ténéré Desert of Niger in 2008. The holotype (MNN GAD1−1) is a tooth-bearing bone (maxilla) from the left side of the upper jaw. All tooth crowns were broken off and nowhere to be seen but, based on the contents in the "crypt" of socket number 8, each tooth had a column of three replacements, the largest of which was edged with fifteen small serrations every 5mm. The assignment of several other specimens to Kryptops − a partial pelvic girdle and sacrum (MNN GAD1−2), and some vertebrae and ribs (MNN GAD1−3 to MNN GAD1−8), which were found 15 meters from the holotype − has been called into question.
Era: Mesozoic
Epoch: Early Cretaceous
Stage: Aptian-Albian
Age range: 112-99 mya
Est. max. length: 6 meters
Est. max. hip height: ?
Est. max. weight: 1.5 tons
Diet: Carnivore
• Sereno PC and Brusatte SL (2008) "Basal carcharodontosaurid and abelisaurid theropods from the Lower Cretaceous Elrhaz Formation of Niger". Acta Palaeontologica Polonica 53 (1): 15–46.
• Carrano MT, Benson RBJ & Sampson SD (2012) "The phylogeny of Tetanurae (Dinosauria: Theropoda)". Journal of Systematic Palaeontology, 10:2, 211-300.
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To cite this page:
Atkinson, L. "KRYPTOPS :: from DinoChecker's dinosaur archive".
›. Web access: 21st Feb 2018.