This one just missed my "Latest Literature" post a few days back. I had commented earlier how 2008 was an amazing year for new temnospondyl papers (and basal turtles) and here is another in early 2009 (although it had been in press since 2007!).
By the way...I am often just blown away by the productivity of some vertebrate paleontologists. I recently linked to Richard Butler's webpage and here now is Rainer Schoch's. Just look at his upcoming output which includes the new paper featured here. Not only do these individuals produce so many papers, but they are all consistantly excellent. Hat's off to Drs. Schoch and Butler!
Damiani, R., Schoch, R.R., Hellrung, H., Werneburg, R., and S. Gastou. 2009. The plagiosaurid temnospondyl Plagiosuchus pustuliferus (Amphibia: Temnospondyli) from the Middle Triassic of Germany: anatomy and functional morphology of the skull. Zoological Journal of the Linnaean Society 155:348-373. doi:10.1111/j.1096-3642.2008.00444.x
Abstract: The cranial anatomy of the plagiosaurid temnospondyl Plagiosuchus pustuliferus, from the Middle Triassic of Germany, is described in detail on the basis of a newly discovered skull and mandibular material. The highly derived skull is characterized by huge orbitotemporal fenestrae, a reduction of the circumorbital bones – the prefrontal, postfrontal and (probably) postorbital are lost – and the expansion of the jugal to occupy most of the lateral skull margin. Ventrally the extremely long subtemporal vacuities correlate with the elongate adductor fossa of the mandible. The dentition is feebly developed on both skull and mandible. Ossified
?ceratobranchials and 'branchial denticles' indicate the presence of open gills clefts in life. The remarkably divergent cranial morphology of P. pustuliferus highlights the extraordinary cranial diversity within the Plagiosauridae, probably unsurpassed within the Temnospondyli. Specific structural aspects of the skull – including an extremely short marginal tooth row, feeble dentition and an elongated chamber for adductor musculature – together with evidence for a hyobranchial skeleton, suggests that P. pustuliferus utilized directed suction feeding for prey capture.
I have always wondered why temnospondyls are often given names that end with -saurus and suchus?
Neuroscience and other theory-poor fields: Tools first, simulation later
2 hours ago in The Curious Wavefunction