Field of Science

"Francosuchus" trauthi is Not a Phytosaur - Implications for Late Triassic Global Vertebrate Biostratigraphy

This eliminates the marine tie for the Otischalkian Land Vertebrate Faunachron, although the identification of this specimen as 'Paleorhinus' was already pretty weak as argued by Irmis et al. (2010).

Butler, R. J., 2013. ‘Francosuchus’ trauthi is not Paleorhinus: implications for Late Triassic
vertebrate biostratigraphy, Journal of Vertebrate Paleontology, 33:858-864. 

Abstract - A rostrum fragment from the marginal marine upper Lunz Formation of Austria (early Late Triassic: late Carnian) was previously identified as a new species of phytosaurian archosauriform, ‘Francosuchus’ trauthi. ‘Francosuchus’ trauthi was subsequently synonymized with the non-phytosaurid phytosaur Paleorhinus, and this synonymy was used as evidence to correlate the ‘Paleorhinus biochron’ and the Otischalkian land-vertebrate faunachron to the marine timescale. Here, I provide a redescription of ‘Francosuchus’ trauthi and document anatomical features that differ substantially from all known species of non-phytosaurid phytosaur. There is no evidence to support synonymy of ‘Francosuchus’ trauthi with Paleorhinus, and no unambiguous features to support a phytosaurian identification. However, ‘Francosuchus’ trauthi possesses a unique combination of characters that distinguish it from all other Triassic tetrapods, and necessitates referral of the species to a new genus, Dolerosaurus, gen. nov. Rejection of the proposed synonymy between ‘Francosuchus’ trauthi and Paleorhinus means that the ‘Paleorhinus biochron’ cannot be tied to the marine late Carnian as previously suggested, and provides further evidence of the problems inherent in attempting to correlate the terrestrial Triassic to the marine timescale.

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