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a plant-eating marginocephalian dinosaur from the Early Cretaceous of Germany.
Pronunciation: ste-NOP-uh-liks
Meaning: Narrow pelvis
Author/s: von Meyer (1857)
Synonyms: None known
First Discovery: Lower Saxony, NW Germany
Chart Position: 12

Stenopelix valdensis

Stenopelix valdensis is based on a partial skeleton preserved as mere impressions on two sandstone slabs that only partly overlap, because its bones were all mangled and had to be removed during preparation. That said, it still represents the most completely known dinosaur specimen from the "Wealden" (Lower Cretaceous) of northwestern Germany, and the oldest pachycephalosaur from the Early Cretaceous of Europe. Though the latter is based on the assumption that it really is a pachycephalosaur, as its first meaningful analysis concluded.

As with most early-named ornithopods, the classification of Stenopelix is a tumultuous affair. But it didn't gather steam until 1974, which is when Osmolska assigned it to Pachycephalosauria—a group of bipedal herbivores known affectionately as "head bangers". A contradiction by Sues and Galton, who thought it was an obvious ceratopsian ("horn face"), arrived eight years later, followed by a position as Ornithischia incertae sedis via Lucas and Sullivan who neatly side-stepped several reclassifications themselves, and although fragile and poorly preserved in the first place it's yo-yoed back and forth ever since.

Fact is; both headbangers and horn faces sport thickened bony ridges around their skulls though they can easily be distinguished if you have their skulls to study, the problem being; Stenopelix doesn't have one. They sport similarities in their pelvic girdle and sacrum too, which is why Butler and Sullivan assigned Stenopelix to Marginocephalia—the group that houses both pachycephalosaurs and ceratopsians—in 2009. But Butler, Jin, Chen and Godefroit fed its stats into their phylogenetic fiddler whilst analysing an archaic ornithopod known as Changchunsaurus in 2011, and it tipped the scales, at least temporarily, in favour of ceratopsian affinities.

Although named and described as a reptile by Hermann von Meyer in 1857, Stenopelix was identified as a dinosaur for the first time by Ernst Koken in 1887.
(Narrow pelvis from the Weald)Etymology
Stenopelix is derived from the Greek "stenos" (narrow) and "pelyx" (pelvis), named for the construction of the pelvis, to which "the narrow, long form of the bones bestows a peculiar appearance". The species epithet, valdensis, is derived from the Latin "valdus" ("Weald" referring to the Weald clay) and "-ensis" (from, place of origin).
The remans of Stenopelix were discovered in the Obernkirchen Sandstone (Obernkirchen Sandstein Formation) at Harrl hill, near Bückeburg, Lower Saxony, NW Germany, in 1855.
The holotype (GZG 741/2 — formerly GPI Gö 741-2) is the impression of an almost complete skeleton, lacking the skull and the neck of a small individual (less than one metre in length) on two sandstone plates. It was originally part of the collection of Max Ballerstedt preserved in the Bückeburg Gymnsasium Adolfinum but was moved to the Georg-August-Universität Göttingen in 1976 and resides in the Geowissenschaftliches Zentrum der Universität Göttingen collection.
Era: Mesozoic
Epoch: Early Cretaceous
Stage: Barremian
Age range: 130-125 mya
Est. max. length: 1 meters
Est. max. hip height: ?
Est. max. weight: 10 Kg
Diet: Herbivore
• Meyer H von (1857) "Beiträge zur näheren Kenntis fossiler Reptilien". Neues Jahrbuch für Mineralogie, Geologie und Paläontologie 1857: 532–543.
• Koken E (1887) "Die Dinosaurier, Crocodili den und Sauropterygier des norddeutschen Wealden". Palaeontologische Abhandlungen 3 (5): 1-111.
• Schmidt H (1969) "Stenopelix valdensis H. v. Meyer, der kleine Dinosaurier des norddeutschen Wealden". Paläontologische Zeitschrift 43(3): 194-198.
• Sereno PC (1997) "The origin and evolution of dinosaurs". Annual Reviews of Earth and Planetary Science 25 (1): 435-489.
• Butler RJ and Sullivan RM (2009) "The phylogenetic position of the ornithischian dinosaur Stenopelix valdensis from the Lower Cretaceous of Germany and the early fossil record of Pachycephalosauria". Acta Palaeontologica Polonica 54(1): 21-34.
• Hornung JJ, Böhme A and Reich M (2011) "Excursion Guide A2: Harrl hill near Bückeburg". Page 101-112 in Richter and Reich (eds.) "Dinosaur tracks 2011". An International Symposium, Obernkirchen. Abstract Volume and Field Guide to Excursions. Universitätsverlag Göttingen.
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To cite this page:
Atkinson, L. "STENOPELIX :: from DinoChecker's dinosaur archive".
›. Web access: 22nd Feb 2018.