The holotype of Irritator challengeri Martill et al., 1996 from the Romualdo Member of the Santana Formation (Lower Cretaceous) in northeastern Brazil represents the most complete skull of a spinosaurid known to date. The now fully prepared specimen provides much new information on the cranial structure in these enigmatic predatory dinosaurs. The skull is remarkably narrow, especially in the region of the elongated snout. The maxillae are in broad contact along the midline, forming an extensive secondary bony palate. The maxillary teeth have straight or slightly recurved, conical crowns, with thin, fluted enamel and distinct but smooth carinae. As in Baryonyx walkeri, the anterior and ventral processes of the lacrimal meet at a more acute angle than in most non-avian theropod dinosaurs. The braincase is short anteroposteriorly but deep dorsoventrally, extending ventrally far below the occipital condyle. Irritator challengeri most closely resembles Spinosaurus aegyptiacus in the structure of its teeth, but more extensive comparisons between the two taxa are currently impossible due to the limited amount of cranial material known for the latter.
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Vol. 22 • No. 3