Field of Science

Arachana nigra, a New Temnospondyl from the Permo-Triassic of Uruguay

Piñeiro, G., Ramos, A., and C. Marsicano. 2012. A rhinesuchid-like temnospondyl from the Permo-Triassic of Uruguay. Compte Rendus Palevol 11:65-78.
Abstract - A new temnospondyl species, Arachana nigra, from the Permo-Triassic Buena Vista Formation of Uruguay is described. The holotypic and only known specimen consists of an almost complete skull lacking most of the snout, the tabular horns and the posterolateral corners of the skull table. As with other specimens from the same unit, Arachana shows a transitional morphology. It shares several characters with rhinesuchids, such as the large size and the general shape of the skull, orbits positioned slightly posterior to the skull roof mid-length, a coarsely pitted dermal ornamentation lacking pustules, and a smoothly convex cheek contour. The palatal ramus of the pterygoid suturing with the vomer, and excluding the palatine and ectopterygoid from the margin of the interpterygoid vacuity, and the presence of a small basioccipital, visible in both occipital and ventral view, also resemble the conditions found in rhinesuchids and other basal temnospondyls. Other characters present in Arachana, however, are commonly found in lydekkerinids, but are absent in almost all rhinesuchids: supratemporal excluded from otic notch; supraorbital and infraorbital sensory sulci encroaching the lacrimal, although lacking a step-like lacrimal flexure; otic notch not deeply incised; post-temporal fenestra large and rounded; occipital condyles well-separated from each other; palatine tooth row behind the palatine tusk reduced; pterygoid corpus slightly ornamented; and presence of an interorbital depression. This combination of primitive and derived characters is consistently present in most components of the Buena Vista fauna, which could thus be transitional between typical Permian and Triassic tetrapod communities found elsewhere. The location of the PTB in the Uruguayan sequence is controversial, mainly due to the lack of clear faunal correlations with other well-known sequences, such as those of southern Africa and Russia. Moreover, the mosaic-like character combinations in most of the recorded tetrapods ally them to both Triassic and Paleozoic groups, and this has complicated even more the possibility of age assignment. Transitional faunas associated with the PTB, such as the Russian Uppermost Permian faunas, could be equivalent to the unique Colonia Orozco fauna. If true, this scenario will substantially change estimates about survivorship rates, suggesting a speciation rate increase in temnospondyls after the Permian-Triassic event. Based on taxonomic, phylogenetic, and geochronologic data, the Buena Vista fauna allows us to quantify faunal turnover across the PTB and in the aftermath of the end Permian extinction event.

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