Palaeontology is a discipline always in state of flux. Especially -in this case – Mexican Palaeontology… the mural of our well received “Hecho En Mexico” Gondwana Studios exhibition at the Alpha Museum in Monterrey (now in the Museo del Desierto. Saltillo) takes a drastic turn!
In my recent trips to Mexico, and given the precautionary times that are affecting every one of us, I had a video conference with my long-time “boss” Angel Ramírez Velasco to whom I’m eternally grateful for allowing me collaborate with him in the version of Tlatolophus that made it to the cover of the prestigious magazine Arqueología Mexicana.
This time he had for me yet another long-time-coming “surprise” that would affect the way we all have been reconstructing the famous hadrosaur Latirhinus, better known as Isauria.
For ages it was the most complete Mexican dinosaur skeleton restored and mounted in the Museo de Geología in Mexico City. We were confident that what we were seeing was accurate and the best possible restoration. Angel Ramírez et al had other ideas after meticulous scrutiny of the fossils.
From the very beginning Isauria was reconstructed as a hadrosaur similar to Kritosaurus and I had dutifully followed that reconstruction. The skeleton was marvellously preserved and repaired by Ricardo Servín Pichardo. However, in a new paper published in the Journal of Paleontology he came to the conclusion that Isauria was not a hadrosaur in the Kritosaurus sense… it was a lambeosaur.
In a last minute correction, Claudia Serrano Brañas together with Albert Prieto Márquez , agreed with Angel but came to the conclusion that not only Isauria was not a hadrosaur, they also claimed that some bones were not from Isauria and were mixed up with the original specimen and misinterpreted….all the researchers agreed is that the original material of Isauria was indeed a lambeosaur not the hadrosaur as originally reconstructed, more akin to several other Mexican lambeosaurs like Magnapaulia or Velafrons (especially this later one).
The fact was that we did NOT have a single bone the head at all! So even if corrected according to the new research, the head is still guess-work. According to Claudia some of the bones don’t belong to the original Latirhinus, and a complete reconstruction would be at this stage a chimera.
What we finally did have for certain were several leg bones and thoracic vertebrae of Latirhinus that in comparison made it more similar to Velafrons than any other hadrosaur..So Angel felt confident at the end that we now have to modify the original idea into a completely different animal, that is more similar to the famous American Corythosaurus. These are the hazards of the Paleo restorer… you are always in danger that well-known illustrations can become obsolete or a “relic” like I say, in a question of minutes.
Thanks to the computer, I am able to correct and modify the original artwork to comply with the new specifications.
I thanking Angel and Claudia for disclosing and talking at length to me about this meticulous research, and the opportunity to virtually illustrate a brand new dinosaur… the lambeosaur Latirhinus uitstlani. The rest of the body is correct. including the pathologies.