Field of Science

Whoa! New Feathered Pseudosuchian from the Upper Triassic of Texas

This paper just came out today and its appearance is timely given that it is right on the heels of the feathered heterodontosaur paper. The reconstruction is particularily striking!

Fry, P.J., Bender, B.R., and L. Turanga. 2009. A new feathered aetosaurian pseudosuchian from the Rottenhillian (?Carnian/?Norian?) of Texas. Naturama 55:235-236.

Abstract – The Rotten Hill Quarry from the Upper Triassic of Texas is reknown for its non-distinctive, somewhat important, and thus monograph worthy vertebrate faunal assemblage that includes indeterminate metoposaurs and phytosaurs, and tiny vertebrates which have been assigned to numerous different taxa based on their perceived stratigraphic position and a whole wack of plesiomorphies. Here we describe a new aetosaurian pseudosuchian, Thecopullipectosuchus alienus, which possesses the first preserved integument known for this clade. This integument consists of numerous structures, which have been interpreted to represent proto-feathers in ornithischians and saurischians. Despite being known from only a single mostly complete paramedian plate, it is apparent that the tube-like structures emanate from pitting in the dermal armor, solving the mystery of the purpose of these structures. It is hypothesized here that the differences in dermal armor ornamentation in aetosaurs reflects the distribution of proto-feathers, which is diagnostic to taxa. Furthermore although the ornamentation of the dorsal armor in Thecopullipectosuchus is identical to Typothorax, it is not referable to that taxon due to the integument and the distinct “flarked” nature of the plates rather than being flexed or arched as in Typothorax. Despite only being known from a single locality, Thecopullipectosuchus is erected here as an index taxon of the Rottenhillian sub-lvf. Another aetosaur from this locality, Sierritasuchus, despite being autapomorphic, is considered here to be a junior synonym of Desmatosuchus simply to further strengthen our biostratigraphic hypothesis and because we strongly dislike the people who named it. The presence of proto-feathers in a pseudosuchian archosaur pushes the first occurrence of these structures back almost to the base of Archosauria and conclusively demonstrates that dinosaurs really are pseudosuchian wanna-bees as previously suspected.
P.S. Any similarities in this post to real events or published, dearly loved, yet clearly erroneous hypotheses are purely coincidental.


  1. I should point out that this specimen also demonstrates the phylogenetic antinquity of mammary glands. There is no evidence of this, but it is probably true anyway.

  2. Fry et al. (2009) is not correct:
    it's Fry et al. (3009)!

  3. HA! That's what, "Socketed young chest"?

  4. I recommended rejection of this article when I reviewed it for the Journal of Scientific Triassicism.

  5. Looks a lot like the feathered crocodylomorph I blogged about a while back, Agriosuchoides, from the Fergana region of Kyrgzystan.


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