This glossary explains technical terms commonly employed in the description of dinosaur
body fossils. Besides
dinosaur-specific terms, it covers terms with wider usage, when these are of central importance in the study of dinosaurs or when their discussion in the context of dinosaurs is beneficial. The glossary does not cover
ichnological and bone histological terms, nor does it cover measurements.
In dinosaurs, the
acetabulum (plural: acetabula) or hip socket is an opening in the
pelvis formed by the
ischium that is visible in lateral and medial views. It accommodates the head of the
femur, forming the hip joint. Most
tetrapods show a closed acetabulum, in which the socket is completely filled with
bone, forming a depression. Dinosaurs are unique in showing a perforate or open acetabulum, where the full extent of the socket is a hole without infilling bone.
The acromion is a bony ridge on the outer distal end of the scapula that functions in providing an attachment for the
clavicle.Nodosaurids develop a pronounced spur known as the pseudoacromion, which probably formed an attachment site for the Musculus scapulohumeralis anterior, and therefore is
analogous with the
The adductor fossa or Meckelian orifice in reptiles and dinosaurs is the major opening into the
lower jaw, located between the
tooth-bearing region and the jaw articulation. It opens dorsally, and is laterally walled by the
surangular and medially by the
prearticular; as the latter is usually much lower than the former, the
fossa is visible in medial view. The floor of the opening is formed by the
angular and houses the posterior part of the Meckelian cartilage. The adductor fossa and its surrounding margins serve as an insertion point for major adductor muscles that close the jaw; it also allows the jaw's main nerve, artery, and vein to enter the interior of the jaw.
In modern birds, pulmonary air sacs are thin-walled, translucent air-filled bags connected to the
lung. Together with the lung, air sacs form a highly efficient respiratory system, which in birds is capable of extracting up to 160% more oxygen than is possible in mammals. Although only limited
gas exchange is taking place within air sacs, they power the ventilation of the lung. Air sacs located both posterior and anterior to the lung allow for a constant airflow through the lung. Smaller and blind air-filled bags extending from the air sacs and the lung are known as pneumatic diverticula (singular: diverticulum); these can be numerous and present in most of the body. Some pneumatic diverticula will resorb and penetrate
bones as an animal grows, creating
fossae (depressions) on the bone surface as well as internal chambers within the bones, a process known as postcranial skeletal pneumatization (PSP). Although air sacs do not fossilize, their presence at least in saurischian dinosaurs is indicated by distinctive traces of pneumatization in the bones.
Dental alveoli (singular: alveolus) or tooth sockets are pits in the
jaws containing the roots of
teeth. Within the alveoli, teeth are periodically replaced by new teeth growing beneath; shedding of the old tooth crown occurs after resorption of the root. The condition of having deep alveoli is known as thecodont, and is present throughout
Archosauria, including dinosaurs. Most
squamates, on the other hand, show the pleurodont condition, where the teeth are fused to the inner sides of the jaw bones, or the acrodontdentition, in which the teeth are fused to the top of the jaw bones without sockets. The thecodont condition was historically used to define a
Thecodontia, which is now considered
paraphyletic and thus obsolete.
antorbital fenestra is one of the five major openings of the
skull, located between the
orbit and the
external naris (nostril). Present in most early
Archosauria), it is primitively present in dinosaurs; it tends to be large in saurischians, but is reduced or entirely closed in ornithischians. The antorbital fenestra lies within a larger depression, the antorbital fossa. This
fossa can contain additional, smaller openings, namely the maxillary fenestra (also: accessory antorbital fenestra) and the promaxillary fenestra.
articulation is any
bones. The term is also used to describe the preservation of specimens: In an articulated specimen, individual bones stick together in their original anatomical position. Conversely, a disarticulated skeleton has its bones moved out of their original anatomical compound. A specimen found with its bones disarticulated but in close proximity to each other is termed an associated skeleton. The transition from a completely articulated skeleton to a cluster of isolated and unassociated bones is fluent.
The astragalus (plural: astragali) is a major
bone in the
ankle. It is located directly below the
tibia and medial to the
calcaneum, which sits below the
fibula. The astragalus does not rotate against the calcaneum or the tibia; instead, it is frequently fused to both elements in bipeds (see also:
The atlas is the first (foremost)
vertebra of the
vertebral column. It receives the
occipital condyle of the base of the
skull, thus forming the connection between skull and
spine. Dinosaurs possessed single condyles allowing for rotational movement between atlas and skull. Mammals, on the other hand, show double condyles, limiting movement to one plane; here, rotational movement is mostly taking place between the atlas and the second vertebra, the
axis. The atlas in dinosaurs is primitive in comprising three separate elements, reflecting the basal condition in reptiles: the atlantal neurapophysis (plural: atlantal neurapophyses; also: atlantal
neural arch) at the top; the intercentrum at the front and the
centrum at the back. An additional small bone, the
proatlas, sits in front of the neural arch. The centrum part of the atlas is also termed the odontoid. The three elements generally remain separate in dinosaurs, but can be fused together. In ceratopsians, the atlas, as well as the axis and third vertebra, are fused into a single
arctometatarsalian condition (from Latin arctus – "compressed"), the middle (third)
metatarsal of the foot is pinched between the surrounding metatarsals (the second and forth) at its upper end, thus disappearing in anterior view. This condition is found in some derived theropods, including ornithomimids, tyrannosaurids, troodontids, elmisaurids, and avimimids, and was hypothesized to function as a shock absorber during running, allowing for higher degrees of
cursoriality. Originally, this character was used to define a clade, the Arctometatarsalia, which is now considered
The axis is the second
vertebra of the
spine, following the
atlas. It is larger than the latter, with its
centrum fused with its
neural arch, and with the
neural spine well-developed. Its small intercentrum, located in front of the centrum, is separate in theropods but becomes fused with the centrum of the atlas in ornithischians.
The term axony describes the location of the dominant (largest and most projecting) digit in a hand or foot, and is most commonly employed in the description of footprints. When the central digit (generally digit III) is dominant, as is the case in the feet of most bipedal dinosaurs, the hand or foot is mesaxonic. An entaxonic hand or foot has its dominant digit medially (either digit I or II); this rare condition can be found in sauropod feet. Conversely, the ectaxonic hand/foot has its dominant digit exteriorly (often digit IV). When either two or four digits are present and neither half of the hand or foot is more dominant than the other, the condition is termed paraxonic.: 47–48
The basal tubera (singular: basal tuber) or sphenoccipital tubercles are a pair of tubercle-like extensions on the underside of the
braincase that function as attachment sites for ventral
neck muscles. They are formed by the
basioccipital and the
basisphenoid bones, and are strongly pronounced in saurischians but only moderately so in ornithischians.
The basisphenoid bone forms the front part of the floor of the
braincase. Not visible from the outside in an articulated
skull, it is fused to the
basioccipital at the rear and to the
parasphenoid at the front. A pair of distinctive processes, the basipterygoid processes, extend from its underside and articulate with the
pterygoids of the
The basioccipital is an unpaired bone of the
skull, and one of four bones forming the
occiput of the
braincase. It is exposed in rear view of the articulated skull. It forms most of the
occipital condyle, a rounded process connecting the skull to the
atlas, the first
vertebra of the
neck. Above, it is fused with the paired
exoccipitals. It also forms the posterior part of the floor of the braincase, being fused with the
basisphenoid at its front.
A: right side view. B: left side view.
A: bottom view. B: top view. C: front view. D: rear view.
Bones are, besides
teeth, the most common dinosaur body fossils. Composed of
hydroxylapatite, bones are hard mineralized and thus durable. Soft parts, in contrast, may only be preserved as impressions, and are directly preserved only in exceptional cases. Bony parts include the
axial skeleton (spine and
ribs), and the
appendicular skeleton (
limbs). Most of these bones are paired, with a mirror-inverted counterpart on the other side of the body, or unpaired, in which case they usually lie at the body midline and are divided by the latter into two symmetrical halves. Furthermore, bones include a number of elements formed in the
skin such as
bony scutes, and
spikes. Paleontologists most frequently study the morphology of bones, but also their histology (the inner microstructure up to the cellular level) and chemical composition provided important insights into dinosaur biology. There are two principal types of bones: Dermal bone is directly formed in the
dermis (skin), usually growing from initially thin plates. Among others, most bones forming the outer surface of the skull and lower jaws are dermal bones. In contrast, endochondral bone is formed from a
cartilaginous precursor, which
ossifies (turn into bone).
The braincase is the part of the skull housing the
brain. In an articulated
skull, it is not visible from the outside except from its rear part, the
occiput. A complex structure, it is pierced by numerous
foramina containing blood vessels and cranial nerves. Individual bones of the braincase tend to be completely fused in adults, with demarcations between the original elements often not visible. In dinosaurs, the anatomy of the braincase is conservative, but for this reason can be used to infer relationships of a group when other skeletal features underwent changes so profound that their origins can no longer be traced. The braincase may also allow for reconstructing the brain and
inner ear, with inferences on senses and intelligence.
The calcaneum (plural: calcanea) is a major
bone of the ankle (at the rear of the foot), and together with the
astragalus forms the upper row of tarsal bones. It is located lateral to the astragalus and distal to the
Caputegulae (Latin "skull tiles") are flat bones covering the skull bones of ankylosaurs. Together with the pyramidal-shaped horns, they form the ornamentation of the skull. Coined by William T. Blowes in 2001, the term can be used for elements representing both co-ossified
osteoderms or cranial sculpturing. The position of a caputegulum on the skull can be specified with the use of modifiers; e.g., the nasal caputegulae sit atop the nasal bones.
Carinae (singular: carina) are enamel ridges that form the cutting edges on the front and rear margins of teeth. They are typically found in carnivorous dinosaurs, and often bear
The carpal bones form the wrist or carpus, which connects the forearm (
ulna) to the
metacarpals of the hand. The corresponding part of the foot is the
tarsus. Basal reptiles show three rows of carpals. In dinosaurs, the carpus is often not fully ossified, and the number and identity of carpal elements remain unclear in many cases. The carpus is especially well ossified in basal ornithischian Heterodontosaurus, where it consisted of nine elements. The proximal row consisted of the radiale (below the radius), the ulnare (below the ulna), and the pisiform (a small element below the ulna and lateral to the ulnare). The distal row consisted of five elements sitting above the five metatarsals, which are denoted as distal carpals 1–5. The middle row is represented by a single element, the centrale.
The carpometacarpus is a bony element of the hand consisting of the fused
metacarpals. This structure occurs in modern birds, but was also present in some theropods closely related to birds, and evolved independently in
The caudals (from Latin caudum — tail), or caudal vertebrae, are the vertebrae that make up the tail. Ancestrally, dinosaurs showed approximately 50 caudal vertebrae, although their number, size, and shape varied considerably in the separate groups. The number of caudals decreased along the evolutionary line leading to modern birds; in the latter, the remaining caudals are fused together into a
pygostyle. Although flexible in early dinosaurs, several clades stiffened their tail with the help of
ossified tendons (as in many ornithischians) or elongated
prezygapophyses (as in some theropods such as
dromaeosaurids). Diplodocid sauropods featured an elongated, whip-like tail, while the tails of some ornithischians are equipped with clubs, spikes, and/or plates.: 45
Cross-section of the tail of Carnotaurus, showing the tail musculature.
The caudofemoralis muscles, or Musculus caudofemoralis, are the main locomotory muscles in all long-tailed dinosaurs. Located mainly in the tail, they pull the
femur of the hind limb backwards when contracted (femoral retraction/hip extension), thus providing propulsion. In long-tailed dinosaurs, the Musculus caudofemoralis is exceptionally large, and can be estimated at 58% of the total mass of the tail in Tyrannosaurus. Two parts are pronounced in dinosaurs: The Musculus caudofemoralis brevis originated on the lower edge of the hind part of the ilium, while the Musculus caudofemoralis longus originated on the anterior portion of the tail, ventral to the transverse processes and beneath the superficial hypaxial tail musculature. Both parts attached to the
fourth trochanter on the back of the femur. The caudofemoralis muscles got reduced during theropod evolution, and are mostly lost in modern birds. Birds, in contrast to long-tailed dinosaurs, do not rely on femoral retraction for propulsion, but instead retracted the lower leg around the knee joint.
The centrocoel is the cavernous marrow cavity inside the
centrum of a vertebra.: 31, 47
The centroprezygapophyseal fossa is a depression on the anterior side of the neural arch pedicles defined by the centroprezygapophyseal lamina.
The centrum (plural: centra), also vertebral body or corpus, is a spool- or cylinder-shaped element that, together with the
neural arch, forms a
vertebra. In juveniles, both centra and neural arches are separate elements, and fusion of these elements is an important criterion to determine adulthood. The anterior and posterior surfaces of the centrum form the articulation with the centra of the preceding and following vertebra. Centra can be classified based on the morphology of these articular surfaces:
Classification of centrum morphologies based on their articular ends in dinosaurs.
amphicoelous (noun: amphicoely) centra are strongly concave on both ends.
platycoelous (noun: platycoely) are slightly concave at both ends.
amphiplatian (noun: amphiplaty. Also: acoelous) centra are flat on both ends.
procoelous (noun: procoely) centra are anteriorly concave and posteriorly convex.
opisthocoelous (noun: opisthocoely) centra are posteriorly concave and anteriorly convex.
heterocoelous (noun: heterocoely) centra are saddle-shaped at both ends.
Amphicoely is the primitive condition tetrapods. In fishes, the ends of the centra are deeply excavated and connected via a small opening, the passage for the
notochord. In reptiles, this type of centrum is present in embryos, and in adult forms of some species; in most species including dinosaurs, centra are more ossified with the notochordal opening closed, improving resistance against compressional forces. Heterocoelous vertebrae allow flexibility while preventing rotation. Procoelous and opisthocoelous centra form concavo-convex (
ball and socket) joints, where the convex ends forms a condyle fitting into the concave end, the cotyle. This configuration allows for greater stability without restricting mobility. In long necks and tails, this stabilization works best when the convex part is pointing away from the body. In sauropods, vertebrae in front of the sacrum are therefore typically opisthocoelous, while those of the tail are procoelous. As a vertebral column can contain different types of central morphologies, transitional centra with the two ends shaped differently may occur.
The cerebellum ("little brain") is a dorsal part of the hind brain between the brain stem and the cerebrum and serves in controlling balance, posture, and movement. This part of the brain usually cannot be observed in dinosaur fossils as it is rarely seen on
endocasts; an exception is the possible preservation of cerebellar folia in Conchoraptor.
The cervicals, or cervical vertebrae, are the neck vertebrae. Most dinosaurs possessed 9 to 10 cervicals, although higher numbers were achieved in some groups including sauropods, both by increasing the vertebral count and by integrating dorsal vertebrae into the neck.: 44
A cervical half-ring is a transversally oriented, collar-like row of
osteoderms protecting the upper side of the neck in
ankylosaurs (the underside of the neck is left bare). An individual usually possessed two cervical half-rings, with the anterior one being smaller than the posterior one. Cervical half-rings are a
synapomorphy of Ankylosauria.
Cervical ribs are bones that attach lateroventrally to the cervical vertebrae. They are
amniotes (although lost in mammals) and comprise an anterior and a posterior process. Some sauropodomorphs, especially some long-necked sauropods such as Giraffatitan, possessed hyperelongated cervical ribs with posterior processes overlapping two or three preceding vertebrae. Bone histological analysis has shown these elongated processes to represent
ossified tendons, meaning that their ends were connected to muscles. The great length of the processes would have increased the distance between the muscle body and the vertebra the muscle is operating, allowing the muscle to be located close to the body, lightening the neck.
Chevrons, or haemal arches, are bones attached to the underside of
caudal vertebrae, forming the ventral surface of the tail. A chevron comprises a left and right part, which are typically fused to each other in a V-shaped fashion, enclosing a large opening that can be seen in front or back view. The openings of multiple consecutive chevrons form the haemal canal of the tail, which protects nerves and blood vessels.: 46
The choanae (singular: choana), or internal nares (singular: internal naris), are a pair of openings in the roof of the mouth that are continuous with the external nares, or nostrils, forming the nasal passage. The left and right openings of the pair are separated along midline of the skull by the
vomer. In dinosaurs, choanae are usually very large and elongate.: 39 
A cingulum (plural: cingula) is a shelf-like bulge surrounding the base of a
The clavicles, also claviculae (singular: clavicula) or collarbones, are a pair of strut-like and curved bones located above the
coracoid in the shoulder. These dermal bones are attached to the
acromion of the scapula, and are best seen in front view of a skeleton. Clavicles are infrequently found with dinosaur skeletons, which probably be due to their low preservation potential.: 49
The coracoid is a paired bone of the pectoral girdle that is attached to the lower end of the
scapula. A flat and in dinosaurs typically semicircle- to square shaped element, it is
endochondral in origin. Its bottom margin forms part of the glenoid of the shoulder joint, together with the scapula.: 47–49 The coracoid shows an opening on its lateral surface, the coracoid foramen, through which the supracoracoid nerve passes.
The coronoid process is a bony projection that extends upwards from the upper surface of the lower jaw behind the tooth row. This process serves as an attachment site for muscles that close the jaw; a higher coronoid process increases the lever arm of these muscles, and thus the bite force. (
see Figure here)
Cranial kinesis is the ability of parts of the skull to move against each other at joints within the skull. Though cranial kinesis had been proposed for a number of non-avian dinosaur taxa, a 2008 review found most of these inferences problematic. Forms of cranial kinesis suggested to occur in dinosaurs include:
streptostyly: The movement of the
quadrate around the
squamosal at the otic joint. The quadrate would mostly swing parallel to the skull midline, although transverse movements may be involved.
prokinesis: The movement between the
braincase and the facial skeleton around the nasofrontal joint (a joint between the nasal and frontal), or movement between the left and right nasal. This type occurs in modern birds.
neurokinesis (also: basal joint kinesis): The movement of the
braincase against the palate around the basipterygoid joint (or basal joint).
pleurokinesis: The ability of the
maxilla to swing outwards. Pleurokinesis had been proposed as a novel type of cranial kinesis for ornithopods, allowing for the use of transverse jaw movements in chewing. This complex form of cranial kinesis requires, besides the mobility of the maxilla and facial skeleton, transverse movements of the
quadrate against the
squamosal (a modified form of streptostyly) as well as basal joint kinesis.
dental battery is a type of
dentition in some herbivorous dinosaurs where individual teeth are packed tightly together to form a continuous grinding surface. In the hadrosaurid Edmontosaurus, the dental battery of each half of the upper and lower jaws contains more than 60 rows of teeth, with each row comprising up to three functional teeth stacked upon each other and up to five replacement teeth beneath this stack that would erupt from the jaws once the functional teeth were worn down and shed. The most sophisticated
dentition type in dinosaurs, it evolved independently in hadrosaurids, ceratopsians, and some sauropods, and differs in form and function in these separate clades.: 185–186 
The dentary is the main bone of the
mandible. It is the only mandible bone that bears teeth, and is located anterior to all other jaw bones except in ornithischians, where the tip of the lower jaw is formed by the
predentary. At their anterior ends, the dentaries of the left and right jaw are connected together, forming the
mandibular symphysis.: 40
Dentition is a collective term for all
teeth present within the jaws of an individual dinosaur. The dentition can be homodont, when only a single type of teeth is present, or heterodont in the case of different types.: 232–233 Teeth are continuously replaced during life. Teeth that are erupted and currently in use are termed the functional teeth. For each tooth position, there are typically one or two unerupted replacement teeth at any time, which successively migrate into the tooth socket and replace the functional tooth once the latter fell out. Some herbivorous species may show up to six replacement teeth per tooth position. Tooth turnover started with the resorption of the root of the functional tooth. Teeth ejected after replacement lack their root, and are called shed teeth.
The deltopectoral crest is a forward directed bony flange on the upper part of the
humerus. An especially long and prominent deltopectoral crest is a dinosaurian
synapomorphy, i.e., a feature differentiating the group from other groups. In dinosaurs, the crest measures 30–40% of the length of the humerus. It provided insertion surfaces for muscles of the shoulder and chest (the deltoid and pectoralis muscles, respectively), which, when contracted, drew the arm towards the body.: 14
The digits, or fingers and toes, form the distal part of the
autopodium, following after the
metacarpus of the hand and the
metatarsus of the foot. They are identified with Roman numerals from I–V, with I denoting the innermost and V the outermost digit. The individual digits have of one or more
phalanges (finger and toe bones).: 145
Dolichoiliac refers to one of two principal hip bone configurations in early saurischian dinosaurs. The dolichoiliac type is characterised by large front and back extensions of the ilium as well as elongated and narrow pubes and ischia. In contrast, the brachyiliac type is characterised by short ilium extensions and more robust pubes and ischia. The brachyiliac type is typical for basal sauropodomorph dinosaurs of the Triassic, while the dolichoiliac type is characteristic of theropods. Both terms were introduced by
Edwin Colbert in 1964.
The dorsals, also termed dorsal vertebrae or back vertebrae, are the vertebrae of the back region between the
cervicals of the neck and the
sacrals of the hip. The Nomina Anatomica Avium (NAA) terminology instead uses the term thoracic vertebrae. In mammals, the term
thoracic vertebrae refers only to the rib-bearing vertebrae of the chest, while the vertebrae of the lower back, which lack ribs, are referred to as
lumbar vertebrae. This subdivision of the dorsal vertebral column is not applicable in dinosaurs, and the NAA term "thoracic vertebrae" refers to the dorsal vertebral column as a whole.: 143 Most dinosaurs had around 15 dorsals. In comparison with the cervicals, the dorsals are shorter, their
neural spines longer, and their
transverse processes more robust and directed outwards.: 45
Endocasts are infillings (moulds) of neural cavities, including the
braincase and the
neural canal of the vertebrae. They thus can record external features of the neural structures that have been present within these cavities, most importantly the brain. Endocasts are not exact copies of neural structures though, as neural cavities typically contain additional tissue that may obscure the morphology of the neural structure. A natural endocast forms when a neural cavity is filled in by sediment, while artificial endocasts can be produced using casting material.: 192
The epijugal is a dermal ossification unique to ceratopsians. It caps the bottom end of the downward-facing, triangular flange of the jugal that is typical for the group. In Arrhinoceratops and Pentaceratops, the epijugal forms a distinct jugal horn. The bone can be found in Yamaceratops and all ceratopsians more derived than the latter.: 500 : 538
Epoccipitals are dermal ossifications lining the edges of the frills of ceratopsians. Epoccipitals are distinct bones in juveniles but in adults fuse to either the
parietal, depending on their position. The epoccipitals of the squamosal are also known as episquamosals, and those of the parietal as epiparietals. Some authors argued against the use of the term epoccipital, as these bones have no connection with the occipital region of the skull, instead preferring the terms episquamosals and epiparietals. Epoccipitals were ornamental instead of functional, and varied widely in shape, forming greatly enlarged spikes in centrosaurines.: 502 : 540
Epipophyses are bony projections of the
cervical vertebrae found in dinosaurs and some fossil basal birds. These
paired processes sit above the
postzygapophyses on the rear of the vertebral
neural arch. Their morphology is variable and ranges from small, simple, hill-like elevations to large, complex, winglike projections. Epipophyses provided large attachment areas for several neck muscles; large epipophyses are therefore indicative of a strong neck musculature. The presence of epipophyses is considered a
synapomorphy of dinosaurs.: 14
Epiossifications (also spelled epi-ossifications) are accessory ossifications attached to the skulls of
ceratopsians. They include:
rostral, an additional bone in front of the premaxilla of the upper jaw.
The epinasal, which forms the horn core of the nose horn.
The epijugals, a pair of bones which often form prominent cheek horns.
episquamosals, small ossifications lining the edges of the neck frill (the parietal and squamosal bones, respectively). These ossifications are also collectively termed as
The external nares (singular: external naris, also: bony nostrils) are a pair of external skull openings for the nostrils. Important landmarks in the skull, they are primitively located in front of the
antorbital fenestra near the tip of the snout. External nares are sometimes referred to as nostrils; this usage is discouraged, however, as the term nostril is reserved for the fleshy opening of the nasal passage (also termed the fleshy nostril), which in some cases may lay far outside of the external naris.: 139 The openings of the nasal passage into the oral cavity are, conversely, termed
internal nares, or choanae.: 39 The often enlarged frontmost part of the nasal cavity, directly below the margins of the external naris, is termed the nasal vestibule.
The femur (plural: femora) or thigh bone is the proximal element of the hind limb. Its proximal head features a large femoral head that is directed medially, forming a 90° angle with the shaft; the head is entering the
acetabulum of the hip, forming the hip joint.: 15 The upper section of the femur features a number of trochanters (processes for muscle attachment):
The lesser trochanter (also: anterior trochanter) is located on the anterior surface immediately below the head. A feature unique to dinosaurs and their immediate outgroups, it anchored the puboischiofemoralis muscles, which draw the hind leg forwards and inwards, and are therefore crucial for locomotion. Many early dinosaurs additionally have a bony ridge or muscle scar known as a trochanteric shelf, which extends from the base of the anterior trochanter towards the posterolateral edge of the femur. The lesser trochanter in dinosaurs is not homologous to the
lesser trochanter of mammals.: 19 : 179
The greater trochanter (also: dorsolateral trochanter) is a ridge or bulge on the lateral surface, opposite and continuous with the femoral head.: 47 It provided attachment for both the puboischiofemoralis and the ischiotrochantericus muscles.: 181
The fourth trochanter is an extensive flange on the posterior surface of the femur, directed rearwards. In dinosaurs, the fourth trochanter is distinctly asymmetrical, with the proximal part more expanded than the distal part. This is a
synapomorphy of Dinosauria. The fourth trochanter provided attachment for the caudofemoralis longus muscle, the most important locomotor muscle that pulls the femur backwards when contracted, providing propulsion.: 16 : 181–182
fibula (plural: fibulae) or calf bone is a
long bone located lateral to the
tibia; together, the two bones form the lower leg. Generally more slender than the tibia, it is especially thin in derived theropods and birds.: 147 : 53
A foramen (plural: foramina) is an opening in a bone for the passage of blood vessels, nerves, muscles, and similar entities.Nutrient foramina are openings allowing blood vessels to enter the inside of bones to enable nutrient supply to the bone.: 224
Fontanelles (also: fontanels) are gaps between bones—typically skull bones—that are primarily present in embryos but often close as the animal grows.: 25 Ceratopsians feature openings in between the frontal and parietal bones called the frontal fontanelles, which represent the openings of the supracranial cavity, a feature unique to the group.
Fossa (plural: fossae) is a general term for a depression or groove in bone surfaces.
Gastralia (singular: gastralium) are dermal bones present within the
dermis of the abdomen between the
pubis. Gastralia are primitively present in dinosaurs and can be found in basal
theropods, but have been independently lost in
neornithines (today's birds). When present, they are arranged in 8 to 21 rows, each of which consisting of four elements: A right and left medial gastralium articulate at the body midline in a zig-zag like fashion, while a lateral gastralium articulates with the lateral end of each medial gastralium. The first and last row may be fused into a single, bow-like structure termed a chevron-shaped gastralium. The use of the term "abdominal rib", which has been sometimes used for gastralia and other abdominal structures, is ambiguous thus discouraged.
The glenoid is the articulation surface formed by the
scapula that receives the head of the
humerus, forming the shoulder joint. A concave and circular structure, it is edged by a bony rim, and located on the posterior surface of the coracoid and the posterodistal surface of the scapula.: 144
The heel is the rear end of the
foot. The term also refers to the rear end of a footprint, in which case it does not necessarily correlate with the anatomical heel, which is elevated above the ground in many dinosaurs.: 47
Horns are outgrowths of skull bones covered by a
keratinous sheath. The bony core of the horn is termed the horn core. As the keratinous sheath is generally not preserved in fossils, its presence in a number of dinosaurs was inferred from comparisons to today's
bovids. Other cranial outgrowths or rugosities may be covered by skin structures, as has been proposed for, e.g., the nasal boss of Pachyrhinosaurus and the domes of
humerus (plural: humeri) is the single upper arm bone, and commonly the largest bone in the forelimb.: 145 : 49
Hyposphene-hypantrum articulations are accessory joints connecting neighboring vertebrae. They consist of a process on the posterior side of a vertebra, the hyposphene, that fits in a depression on the anterior side of the next vertebrae, the hypantrum. Hyposphene-hypantrum articulations occur in the dorsal vertebrae and sometimes also in the posteriormost
cervical and anteriormost
Hyoids are bones of the throat region below and behind the skull that supported the tongue. These elements are seldom found in dinosaurs, as they are not articulated with the remaining skeleton and thus are easily lost.: 155
A hypex (plural: hypexes or hypices) is the
apex of the angle formed between two
digits, or, in other words, the most proximal point of the space between two digits. The hypex can only be identified when soft tissue is present, and is thus mostly employed in the study of fossil footprints.: 46–47
The ilium (plural: ilia) is the upper and largest bone of the hip. It consists of a main body, the iliac blade, whose medial side is attached to the
sacral vertebrae. Ventrally, it forms a thickened, curved ridge overhanging the
acetabulum, the supraacetabular ridge or crest, which distributes stresses transmitted through the
femur of the hind limb. The anterior expansion of the iliac blade is termed the preacetabular process (also: preacetabular ala), and the posterior expansion the postacetabular process (also: postacetabular ala); both expansions allow for the optimal placement of the origins of limb muscles. In front of the acetabulum, a robust process, the pubic peduncle, is extending ventrally to attach to the pubis, while an ischiadic peduncle is extending behind the acetabulum to attach to the ischium.: 33 Immediately behind the acetabulum on the ischiadic peduncle lies the antitrochanter, an articular surface that extents ventrally onto the ischium and articulates with the greater trochanter of the femur.: 19 : 726 The ventral surface of the postacetabular process showed a depression termed the brevis fossa, where the caudofemoralis brevis muscle originated.: 21 Bordering the brevis fossa laterally is the brevis shelf, a ridge running along the ventrolateral margin of the ilium between the ischiadic peduncle and the rear end of the bone.: 733–734
The ischium (plural: ischia) is one of three bones comprising the pelvis, and located below the
ilium and behind the
pubis. It is a rod-like element with an expanded shelf at its proximal end, the obturator plate, that makes contact with the ilium and pubis (a corresponding obturator plate is also found in the pubis). As the pubis, the left and right ischia are fused along their entire length. The expanded symphysis of the caudoventrally directed shaft is termed the ischiadic apron.: 139 The distal end of the ischium is often expanded into an ischial boot. The ventral surface of the shaft featured a longitudinal ridge, the obturator process. While proximally located in basal taxa, the obturator process is located on the distal end of the ischium in coelurosaurs.: 152
The infratemporal fenestra (also: lateral temporal fenestra) is a major opening on the side of the skull behind the
orbit.: 140 It is bordered by the
postorbital in its upper front, the
squamosal in its upper back, the
quadratojugal in its lower back, and the
jugal in its lower front corner.: 37
The interclavicle is a single, rod-like dermal bone located between the
clacivles in the shoulder girdle. A primitive feature in tetrapods, interclavicles are generally assumed to be absent in dinosaurs, having been lost in Dinosauriformes. The presence of interclavicles in several dinosaur taxa has, however, been repeatedly suggested.
Interdental plates (also: transverse septa, rugosae) are bony plates on the lingual (inner) margin of the tooth row, that rise from the alveolar margin of the jaw to fill the region between the teeth.
The jugal, or cheek-bone, is a skull bone that defines the lower border of the orbit and connects to the
maxilla anteriorly and to the
quadratojugal posteriorly. Its posterior end is bifurcated at its articulation with the quadratojugal, which is considered a
synapomorphy of dinosaurs.: 140 : 12
The lacrimal is a strut-like bone in the skull separating the
antorbital fenestra from the
orbit. It is pierced by a canal for the lacrimal duct (tear duct), which connected the orbit with the antorbital fenestra. In some species the upper end of the lacrimal features a triangular crest or horn that rises above the
skull roof.: 37 : 62
Vertebral laminae (singular: lamina) or osseous septa (singular: osseus septum) are ridges on vertebrae that divide pneumatic chambers. They originate and terminate on different processes and regions of the vertebra depending on their terminology, and named from their points of start and finish. Laminae are divided into four arbitrary categories based on their terminus – diapophyseal laminae, parapophyseal laminae, zygapophyseal laminae and spinal laminae. They may also be divided into sublaminae if they split along their length, or composite laminae if more than one lamina forms a ridge. Example laminae:
The laterosphenoid (also: pleurosphenoid) is a wing-like bone of the anterior part of the lateral wall of the
braincase. Not visible from the outside, it is located anterior to the
prootic and contacts the
postorbital above. The laterosphenoid as a distinct ossification is unique to archosauriforms; in other reptiles this part of the neurocranial cartilage does not ossify.: 39 : 83 
Ligamentum elasticum interlaminare
The ligamentum elasticum interlaminare (sometimes shortened to ligamentum elasticum) is a ligament composed of unpaired bundles that connect the
neural spines of adjacent vertebrae in dinosaurs and birds. This ligament spans the neck and tail, and in modern birds maintains the concavity of the neck. Release of this ligament during decay was proposed to result in the characteristic
death poses where the spine is strongly curved.
Diagram of the forelimb of Allosaurus showing the principal segments of the limb
The limbs form, together with the girdles, part of the appendicular skeleton. Fore- and hind limbs are very similar in structure, and are segmented into three principal parts. The upper limb, the stylopodium, consists of the humerus (forelimb) or the femur (hind limbs), while the lower limb, the zeugopodium, consists of ulna and radius (forelimb) or tibia and fibula (hind limb). The distal part is the autopodium, comprising the hands or feet. The autopodium itself is subdivided into three segments: the carpalia (forelimb) or tarsalia (hind limb) form the basipodium; the metacarpalia (forelimb) or metatarsalia (hind limb) the metapodium; and the phalanges of the digits the acropodium.: 18 An aberrant terminology was proposed by Günter Wagner and Chi-Hua Chiu in 2001. Here, the autopodium is subdivided into only two sections, the mesopodium comprising the nodular elements (the carpus or tarsus), and the acropodium, which under this definition comprises all autopodial long bones, including both the metacarpalia (or metatarsalia) and the phalanges.
The maxilla (plural: maxillae) is the posterior, and usually largest, tooth-bearing bone of the upper jaw. Anteriorly, it connects to the
premaxilla and often contributes to the border of the external naris. Over most of its length, the maxilla forms the ventral limits of the
antorbital fenestra as well as the depression surrounding this opening, the
antorbital fossa, which is deeply recessed within the maxilla. In derived theropods, the maxilla may feature two smaller, additional openings, the promaxillary fenestra and the maxillary fenestra. At its posterior end, the maxilla articulates with the jugal and the lacrimal.: 37 : 139–140
The mandible, or lower jaw, is the part of the
skull below the
cranium. Each half of the mandible, termed a mandibular ramus (plural: mandibular rami; from Latin "branch") or hemimandible,: 157 is connected to the
quadrate at the back of the skull to form the jaw joint. At the front, both mandibular rami are attached to each other; the region of attachment is termed the mandibular symphysis. The mandible consists of both
endochondral bones, which ossified from the
Meckelian cartilage, and
dermal bones. In dinosaurs, only the
The external mandibular fenestra is an opening in the lower jaw between the
angular bones. It is characteristic for archosauriforms, and present in most groups of dinosaurs.: 40
The Meckelian groove is a longitudinal channel within the lower jaw. It housed the unossified remnants of the Meckelian cartilage (also: Meckel's cartilage), from which the
endochondral elements of the lower jaw ossified. The anterior part of the Meckelian groove is exposed on the medial side of the dentary close to the ventral margin of the bone, while the posterior part is enclosed by bone on both sides, only to open dorsally through the
adductor fossa.: 44
The mesethmoid is a bone in the anterior part of the
braincase. It is located beneath the
frontal bones and in front of the
sphenethmoid, and articulates with the
interorbital septum anteriorly. The mesethmoid is composed of a horizontal dorsal plate located directly beneath the frontals from which a median septum (a thin wall of bone at the skull midline) extends ventrally to make contact with the
basisphenoid. As is the case with the sphenethmoid and the
orbitosphenoid, the mesethmoid is not ossified in many species and thus rarely preserved; it is however commonly found in birds.: 39
The metacarpals are the long bones of the hand, forming the palm. Together they are called the metacarpus, and are situated between the carpals and the phalanges of the digits. They are identified with Roman numerals from I–V, with metacarpal I the innermost (connecting to the thumb) and metacarpal V the outermost.: 145
The metatarsals are the long bones of the foot. Together called the metatarsus (plural: metatarsi), they connect the tarsals with the digits. As is the case with the metacarpals of the hand, metatarsals are identified with Roman numerals from I–V, where metatarsal I is the innermost (connecting to the thumb toe) and metatarsal V the outermost.: 147–148
Myorhabdoi (also: myorhabdoid ossifications) are bones found in the tail of
pachycephalosaurs. Multiple myorhabdoi form a meshlike structure surrounding (but not connecting to) the vertebral column which has sometimes been called a caudal basket. Myorhabdoi form within the
myosepta (connective tissues separating blocks of muscle tissue, the
myomeres), and represent ossified myoseptal
tendons. Therefore, myorhabdoi form in the periphery of the muscle tissue below the
dermis (and not within the dermis, as is the case in
osteoderms). They are also distinct from
ossified tendons, which stiffened the tail in other ornithischian dinosaurs, although they may have had similar functions. Myorhabdoi are primarily known from
teleost fish; pachycephalosaurs are the only known
tetrapods where these structures ossify. An articulated caudal basket is known from Homalocephale.
Neural spines (also: spinous processes) are processes rising upward from the top surface of the vertebral
neural arch. Singular processes, they form a single row along the midline of the spine, with their tips generally being the highest points of the individual vertebrae. Neural spines provide attachment surfaces for muscles and ligaments running atop the spine.: 8 In some species, they can be greatly elongated to form a sail, or deeply bifurcated so that their top parts form a double row.
The neurocentral suture is the separation between the
neural arch of each
vertebra. Juvenile dinosaurs typically have "open" (unfused) neurocentral sutures, which become "closed" (fused) as they reach adulthood.
The transverse nuchal crest is a ridge at the back of the skull found in many theropods. Oriented transversally (perpendicular to the skull midline), it forms the border between the
skull roof and the occipital region. It is mainly formed by the rear margin of the
parietals with contributions by the
squamosals. The crest anchors neck musculature, and its rear face may contain fossae for attachment of the
nuchal ligament. The transverse nuchal crest is not to be confused with the sagittal nuchal crest, a midline ridge on the
supraoccipital.: 82 : 117 : 167
The nuchal ligament is an elastic
ligament that stretches from the back of the skull to the rear part of the neck above the vertebral column.: 354
The occiput is an area on the back side of the skull. It consists of four bones surrounding the foramen magnum, the passage for the spinal chord that opens into the brain cavity: the
supraoccipital on top, the
pairedexoccipitals on the sides, and the
basioccipital below. Directly below the foramen magnum is a spherical, knob-like process, the occipital condyle, which articulates with the atlas, the first vertebrae of the neck. The occipital condyle is mainly formed by the basioccipital, with smaller contributions by the exoccipitals on the top edges.: 38
The opisthotic is a
paired bone of the rear of the
braincase. In adult dinosaurs, it is always fused with the paired
exoccipitals, forming a structure known as the exoccipital-opisthotics. Together with the exoccipitals, the opisthotics form a pair of large wing-like processes extending backwards and sidewards from the braincase, the paroccipital processes. These processes make contact with the
The orbitosphenoid (deprecated: presphenoid) is a bone of the anterior part of the
braincase that underlies the forebrain. A
paired bone, the left and right halves enclose the canal for the second cranial nerve (optic nerve). In dinosaurs it only ossifies occasionally.: 39
Osteoderms are bones forming in the
dermis of the skin. They can form plate or spike-like structures in some species, most extremely in the armored ankylosaurs. Small and irregular osteoderms less than 1 cm (or 5–15 mm) in diameter are known as ossicles.
Ossified tendons are bony rods bracing and stiffening the vertebral column.: 148 Their presence on the upper sides of the vertebrae is considered a
The otic capsule is the thickened side region of the
braincase that contains the inner ear. It is composed of two ossifications, the
prootic in front and the
opisthotic behind. Between both bones lies the fenestra ovalis, a large opening receiving the
A pad is a fleshy swelling on the underside of a hand or foot that is commonly observed in footprints. Depending on the part of the hand or foot they support, they are described as palm pads, sole pads, or digital pads.: 47 A digit may feature discrete phalangeal pads (also: digital nodes: 112–116 ) that can correspond to individual
phalanges (finger/toe bones). In dinosaurs, phalangeal pads typically show an arthral arrangement, with a pad enclosing the joint between two phalanges. Humans, on the other hand, show the mesarthral arrangement, were the transition from one pad to the next occurs beneath the joint. A pad enclosing the joint between a metacarpal (or metatarsal) and the first phalanx is termed a metatarsophalangeal pad.: 112–116
The palate is the part of the skull between the left and right upper jaws that forms the roof of the mouth. It consists of one unpaired bone, the
vomer, and five paired bones (
quadrate). The palate features three pairs of openings, namely the
choanae or internal nostrils, the suborbital fenestrae between the palatines and ectopterygoids, and the subtemporal fenestrae behind the ectopterygoids, which are continuous with the
infratemporal fenestrae.: 39–40
The palpebral (also: supraorbital, adlacrimal) is a small bone attached to, or forming parts of, the upper margin of the
orbit (eye socket). Forming in the upper eyelid, it is originally derived from
osteoderms. There may be one or several palpebrals at either side of the skull. The presence of a palpebral is a synapomorphy of ornithischians, although palpebrals also evolved in other reptile clades, including
Parapophyses are processes on the
centra of the cervical and dorsal vertebrae that articulate with the
capitulum of the
ribs. They are typically located close to the front margin of the side surface of the centrum, and well separated from the
diapophyses on the
transverse processes of the neural arches, which receive the second rib head, the
tuberculum. However, the position of the parapophysis gradually shifts onto the transverse process along the spine from the cervical to the posterior dorsal vertebrae, where it may form a single structure with the diapophysis that receives a single-headed rib.: 8 : 225
The parasphenoid is the only dermal bone of the
braincase. It forms part of the underside of the braincase, being located in front of the
basisphenoid and extending forwards beneath the eyes in an elongated process. This process supported a membrane that extended dorsally to the
skull roof, separating the right and left eyeballs. This membrane may be ossified, when it is called an interorbital septum.: 39
The pectoral girdle, or shoulder girdle, is the set of bones of the
appendicular skeleton that connects to the forelimbs. In the strict sense, the pectoral girdle includes the
clavicle, while the
sternum is variously referred to either the pectoral girdle or, together with the ribs, the axial skeleton. Unlike the pelvic girdle, which is rigidly anchored on the spine, the pectoral girdle has no such bony connection but instead is suspended by muscles.
The pelvis, also known as the pelvic girdle, is the collective term for bones of the hip, which connect the vertebral column to the hindlimb. The pelvis includes the
ischium. Its inner surface has a strong connection to
sacral ribs of the
sacral vertebrae, which may be fused into a sacrum.
The pes (plural: pedes), or foot, comprises the
pedal phalanges. The first digit of the foot is the hallux, which is short and not contacting the ground in most bipedal dinosaurs, but enlarged and reversed (pointing backwards instead of forwards) in birds.
The phalanges (singular: phalanx) are the bones of the digits of the hands and feet. The ultimate phalanx of a digit called an ungual and formed the bony core of a horny hoof or claw.: 145
The pineal foramen (also: frontoparietal foramen; parietal foramen; postfrontal foramen; interfrontal foramen) is an
unpaired opening at the midline of the
skull roof present in some dinosaurs, but often closed in adults. Its position is variable; it can be located between the
parietals, or at the junction between frontals and parietals. This opening exposed the
parietal organ, and thus served for
Pleurocoels are openings on the side surfaces of the vertebra that lead into internal chambers within the
neural arch of the vertebra. A pleurocoel may be a single cavity or a complex of smaller, interconnected cavities.: 143–144
The postcranium ("behind the cranium"; plural: postcrania) is the part of the skeleton that follows behind the skull. It is subdivided into the axial skeleton, which includes the entirety of the vertebrae and ribs, and the appendicular skeleton, which includes girdles and limbs. Furthermore, individual specimens found without a skull are often referred to as postcrania.
The postorbital is a
paired bone on the side of the skull that forms much of the back margin of the
orbit. In ceratopsians, it is modified to form prominent horns above the eyes.: 38
The prearticular is a bone of the rear portion of the
lower jaw. Exposed on the inner side of the latter, it sits in front of the
articular and above the
angular. It forms the inner margin of the
paired premaxilla (plural: premaxillae) is the frontmost bone of the upper jaw and forms the tip of the snout. It contains the front part of the upper tooth row, which is continuous with that of the
maxilla, which follows behind.: 36
The proatlas is a small paired bone sitting in between the
neural arch of the
atlas (the first vertebra) and the base of the skull. The elements of each pair are triangular in shape, with the broad end articulating with the neural arch of the atlas, and the acute end with the
exoccipital of the skull. Given its small size, the proatlas is easily lost during fossilization, collection or preservation and thus rarely been found.
The prootic is a
paired bone forming parts of the side surface of the
braincase. Together with the
opisthotic, which is located behind it, the prootic forms the
otic capsule. The prootic contains openings for the
facial nerves, and is internally excavated by sinuses. Its external surface provided rough attachment surfaces for muscles opening the jaw.: 39
The pterygoid is a
paired bone of the
palate. Large and complex, it articulates with both the
braincase and other bones of the palate. At their rear portion, the left and right pterygoid enclose an opening, the interpterygoid vacuity.: 39–40
The pubis (plural: pubes) is one of the three bones that comprise the pelvis, and located ventral to the
ilium and anterior to the
saurischians, the pubic shaft is primitively directed forward (the propubic condition). In
ornithischians, the original pubic shaft is pointing backwards (the opisthopubic condition); instead, a well-developed anterior ramus or prepubis is present, which can be larger than the posteriorly directed shaft in derived forms. The left and right pubes are usually fused along their entire length, with the distal portion being expanded, forming the pubic apron.: 152 In some neotheropods, the distal section of the suture is not continuous but forms a fenestra, the pubic foramen, that is visible in ventral view.: 141 The proximal part of the pubis features an opening, the obturator foramen, which is located close to the acetabulum and visible in lateral view. The obturator foramen allows for the passage of the obturator nerve. In theropods, the obturator foramen is not completely surrounded by bone as the ventral border is lacking; this condition is termed an obturator notch.: 143
A pygostyle is a bony structure composed of the fused hindmost caudal vertebra. It is found in
pygostylian birds, where it functions in anchoring long tail feathers.
The quadrate is a large,
endochondral bone at the back of the skull. A columnar structure, its lower end articulates with the lower jaw, forming the jaw joint, while its upper end reaches beneath the
squamosal. The quadrate is part of the
The quadratojugal is a bone in the cheek region of the skull that is visible in side view, forming the lower rear corner of the
The radius (plural: radii) is the smaller and anterior of the two bones of the forearm.: 145
The rhamphotheca (plural: rhamphothecae) or beak is a horny (
keratinous) covering on the tips of the jaws commonly found in ornithischians, ornithomimosaurs, and birds. As keratin rarely fossilizes, beaks are only preserved as impressions. The presence of beaks is often inferred from the roughened surface texture of the jaw tips, which are strongly vascularized (containing numerous blood vessels).
Dorsal ribs or costae (singular: costa; this Latin term is less commonly used than the English term "ribs") attach to both sides of the
dorsal vertebrae and provide protection for organs located in the trunk. Ribs are bicapitate (two-headed): A dorsal head, the tuberculum (plural: tubercula),
articulates with the
transverse processes of the
neural arch, while a ventral head, the capitulum (plural: capitula) articulates with the
centrum. Ribs are also present in the neck (
cervical ribs) and sacrum (
The rostral bone is a novel bone found in
ceratopsians. An unpaired element, it caps the front of the
premaxillae at the tip of the snout.: 36 When used as an adjective, the term rostral refers to the
rostrum.: 357 The rostral and other accessory ossifications attached to the skulls of ceratopsians are collectively termed
The rostrum (plural: rostra) is the
snout region of the skull.: 357
The sacrals, or sacral vertebrae, of the vertebral column are located between the dorsal and caudal vertebrae. They are frequently fused together into a structure known as the sacrum (plural: sacra).: 143 Sometimes one or more dorsal vertebrae are fused to the sacrum into a structure termed a synsacrum.: 368
The scapula (plural: scapulae), or shoulder blade, is an
endochondral bone and the largest element of the pectoral girdle. In adults, the scapula is usually fused to the
coracoid, forming the
A sclerotic ring (also: scleral ring) is a ring of small plate-like bones located on
eye within the
sclera and around the
pupil. The individual plate-like bones are termed scleral ossicles.: 84
A secondary palate is a roof-like structure separating the nasal airways from the mouth. Primitively in reptiles, the
choanae open into the oral cavity at the front of the mouth, admitting that food items may block the air passages while feeding. A secondary palate, as it is commonly found in mammals, shifts the choanae backwards, allowing for feeding and breathing simultaneously. In several clades, including
maniraptoriform coelurosaurs, the secondary palate was bony and termed an osseous secondary palate. In contrast, a soft secondary palate was inferred for some other taxa such as Plateosaurus and
Stegosauria based on projections and ridges of the palatal bones. An osseous secondary palate is typically formed by shelf-like extensions of the
maxillae that meet with the
vomer at the skull midline. Ankylosaurids developed a novel additional part of the secondary palate that extends forward from the
palatine at the rear part of the palate, and has been termed the caudoventral palatal shelf (correspondingly, the anterior part formed by the premaxillae and maxillae is also termed the rostrodorsal palatal shelf).
Serrations are small protuberances arranged in lines along the cutting edges (
carinae) of teeth. A closely related term is denticle (also: dentelures). Both terms have been defined in different ways, with many authors using them as synonyms. Other authors applied the term "serration" to the smaller structures of carnivorous teeth and the term "denticles" to the coarser protuberances seen in many herbivorous teeth. A recent terminological review defines denticles as a complex type of serration that is formed by both the
enamel and the underlying
dentine, while the term serration also encompasses structures solely formed from enamel. According to this definition, the protuberances seen in carnivorous dinosaurs should be termed denticles. A detailed terminology is employed to describe the complex denticle morphology of carnivorous teeth:
cellae (singular: cella; also: interdenticular space): The spaces between individual denticles.
diaphysis (plural: diaphyses): The point where the enamel caps of two neighboring denticles diverge or are closest to each other.
ampulla (plural: ampullae): The flask-shaped chamber beneath the diaphysis.
radix: the core of the denticle beneath the operculum.
interdenticular sulcus (plural: sulci, also: blood groove): A groove that runs from the spaces between neighboring denticles a short distance onto the tooth surface at both sides perpendicular to the
cauda (plural: caudae): a bulge arising from the base of a denticle and running perpendicular to the
carina onto the tooth surface between two interdenticular sulci.
Annotated skull diagram of Dromaeosaurus in lateral view showing bones and skull openings.
The skull encompasses the bones and teeth of the head. It is composed of an upper part, the cranium (plural: crania), as well as a lower part, the mandible. The cranium consists of
skull roof, the upper jaw and cheek region; and the
palate. The braincase is almost completely of
endochondral origin, while the remainder of the cranium is predominantly composed of dermal bones. The mandibles are composed of both dermal and endochondral bones. The skull features a number of openings, which are important landmarks in anatomical descriptions. These include the orbit (plural: orbita), or eye socket, which housed the eye, as well as the
external naris. In addition, the skull featured additional openings, or fenestrae (singular: fenestra), that were typical for
diapsid reptiles: the
antorbital fenestra between the external naris and the orbit; the
infratemporal fenestra behind the orbit, and the
supratemporal fenestra at the back of the skull roof.: 138–140 : 32–36 
The sphenethmoid is a tube-shaped bone at the front part of the
braincase. Located beneath the
frontal bones, behind the
mesethmoid, and in front of the
orbitosphenoid, it contained the olfactory bulbs, which housed the sense of smell. As is the case with the mesethmoid and the orbitosphenoid, the sphenethmoid is not ossified in many species and thus rarely preserved.: 39
The splenial is a
dermal bone of the
lower jaw that is located behind and medial (towards the inside) of the
dentary. The splenial covers most of the inner side of the dentary, and is often the most extensive bone of the lower jaw in medial view.: 40 
The squamosal is a paired bone at the rear corners of the skull.: 38
The subnarial foramen is a small opening between the
maxilla in saurischians and some basal ornithischians.: 23
Diagram of three taxa displaying subnarial gaps.
The subnarial gap (also termed a "kink") is a gap between the
maxilla in the snouts of
spinosaurid theropods. The subnarial gap results in a
diastema, a gap in the tooth row. The space between the subnarial gap of the snout and the upwards curving tip of the mandible is called the subrostral notch. In Dilophosaurus, the gap contained a deep excavation behind the toothrow of the premaxilla, called the subnarial pit.
The supraoccipital is an unpaired bone of the
occiput at the back of the skull. It forms the top margin of the
foramen magnum, and connects dorsally to the
parietal bones. It frequently shows a midline ridge for insertion of neck muscles.: 38–39
The surangular is a dermal bone in the lower jaw that is visible in side view, being located behind the
dentary and above the
The tarsals are a set of bones in the hind limb between the metatarsals below and the
fibula above.: 148 They are collectively called the tarsus. The tarsus consists of an upper series formed by the
calcaneum, and a lower series of small bones sitting atop the metatarsals. The upper and lower series can move against each other, forming the ankle joint.: 53
In dinosaurs, teeth are present on the
premaxilla of the upper jaw and the
dentary of the mandible.: 40 Only the very basal dinosaurs Eoraptor and Eodromaeus bear rudimentary teeth on the
pterygoid of the
palate (palatal teeth). A jaw bone without teeth is denoted as edentulous.: 140 Teeth can be divided into two parts: the crown, which is the upper, exposed part, and the root, which is nested within the gums. Teeth are primarily composed of two tissue types, enamel and dentin. Enamel forms the hard and shiny outer layer, while the softer and bone-like dentin fills the inside. Occasionally, a third type, cementum, can be found atop the enamel layer.
The tibia (plural: tibiae) is the larger of the two bones of the lower leg. It is located medial to the
fibula. The tibia features a prominent ridge extending from its front surface at its upper end, the cnemial crest (also: tibial crest). The cnemial crest anchored the tendons of the triceps femoris muscles, which were responsible for knee extension (stretching of the leg), and increased the leverage of these muscles.: 178 : 147
thagomizer is the four to ten tail spikes seen in stegosaurians. The term was coined in 1982 by cartoonist
Transverse processes are wing-like projections extending sidewards from the neural arches of the cervical, dorsal, sacral, and the frontmost caudal vertebrae. Their typically horizontal orientation results in the characteristic T-shape of the vertebrae in front or back view. At its tip, a transverse processes articulates with the
tuberculum of its
rib; the broadened articulation area for the rib is termed a diapophysis (plural: diapophyses).: 42 Some authors, however, denominate the entire transverse process as the diapophysis, using both terms as synonyms.: 224–225 : 8
The ulna (plural: ulnae) is the larger and more posterior of the two bones of the forearm.: 145 The upper end of the ulna often shows a large process extending past the elbow joint, the olecranon process, to which the triceps muscles (forearm extensor muscles) were attached. The sometimes great elongation of the olecranon process provided these muscles with increased leverage.: 50 : 173–174
Vertebrae (singular: vertebra) are the bony components of the vertebral column (i.e. the backbone or spine). In dinosaurs, the vertebrae are regionalized into
cervicals (neck vertebrae),
dorsals (trunk vertebrae),
sacrals (hip vertebrae) and
caudals (tail vertebrae). Each vertebra has a roughly spool-shaped lower component, the
centrum, and an arch-shaped upper component, the
neural arch. Between these components is a tube-shaped tunnel, the spinal canal. The spinal chord of the nervous system runs through the spinal canal of each vertebra in the backbone. The cervical, dorsal, and sacral vertebrae connect to
transverse processes on the sides of their neural arch. The caudal vertebrae connect to
chevrons on the underside of their centra.
A Zahnreihe (
German for "tooth row", plural: Zahnreihen) is a series of tooth positions that form a replacement unit. A tooth row typically consists of several Zahnreihen containing two or more teeth each. Tooth replacement always starts at the rearmost tooth position of a Zahnreihe and propagates frontward. This way, it is avoided that two neighboring tooth positions are replaced at the same time, which would leave gaps in the tooth row. The number of teeth from one Zahnreihe to the next is the Z-spacing. When the Z-spacing is exactly 2, teeth are replaced in an alternating pattern; if Z-spacing is greater than 2, teeth will be replaced in sequence.
Ziphodont refers to teeth that are blade-like, with recurved and flattened crowns that typically bear serrations. Adapted to a carnivorous diet, ziphodont teeth are primitively present in dinosaurs, and are found in most non-avian theropods.
The zygapophyses (singular: zygapophysis), or articular processes, are projections of the vertebral arch that connect adjacent vertebrae. Each vertebra has two pairs of zygapophyses, which are articulating with the zygapophyses of the following and preceding vertebra: At the front are the prezygapophyses (also: cranial zygapophyses), which are extending forwards and have their articular surface facing upwards. At the back of a vertebra are the postzygapophyses (also: caudal zygapophyses), which are extending backwards with their articular surface facing downwards.: 143
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