Field of Science

First Record of Cynodonts from the Late Triassic of Northern Italy

Renesto, S., and S.G. Lucas. 2009. Cynodont teeth from the Carnian (Late Triassic) of northern Italy. Acta Palaeontologica Polonica 54: 357-360. doi:10.4202/app.2008.0055

Abstract - A jaw fragment with three teeth preserved, collected from the Gorno Formation (Carnian, Upper Triassic) of Lombardy (Italy) is described. The teeth are transversely elongated, three-cusped and bear anterior and posterior cingula. Their overall morphology supports their identification as postcanines of a gomphodont cynodont. The unique tooth morphology of the new specimen supports its attribution to a new genus and species, while at the same time precluding positive assignment to already known gomphodont families. There is a fairly small record of gomphodont cynodonts in Europe, so that the described specimen adds to the knowledge of the distribution and diversity of European gomphodonts and it also represents the first ever collected in Italy.

The authors acknowledge that these teeth are remarkably similar to those of pycnodont fishes; however, they argue strongly for synapsid affinities instead although they admit that the morphology is unique for that group. Indeed, the overall morphology of the teeth is extremely similar to that of pycnodonts (compare Figure 2a in Renesto and Lucas (2009) to a toothplate of Coelodus stantoni pictured here), but I am not familiar enough with synapsids or pycnodonts to make a determination either way. Even though the pycnodonts pictured at the Oceans of Kansas Site are from the Cretaceous, pycnodonts are known from the Late Triassic of the Tethyan Region (including Italy). Furthermore, the formation in which the specimen was recovered (the Gorno Formation) has been interpreted as lagoonal deposits and thus could support either interpretation.

The new taxon erected for these teeth is Gornogomphodon caffii.

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