Otero, A. and D. Pol. 2013. Postcranial anatomy and phylogenetic relationships of Mussaurus patagonicus (Dinosauria: Sauropodomorpha). Journal of Vertebrate Paleontology 33:1138-1168.
Abstract - The transition from basal sauropodomorphs to sauropods is one of the most dramatic evolutionary transformations in the history of dinosaurs. Constituent taxa of this transition were recorded mainly in South Africa and South America, and to a lesser extent in North America. We describe here the postcranial anatomy of four specimens of basal sauropodomorphs from the Late Triassic of Patagonia, Argentina, and identify them as adult individuals of Mussaurus patagonicus. The material is composed of one subadult and three adult specimens and was originally identified as Plateosaurus. The completeness of the material provides more complete knowledge of this taxon and allows us to introduce aspects of basal sauropodomorph anatomy that were poorly understood until now, such as the configuration and arrangement of the distal carpal elements. The phylogenetic relationships of Mussaurus patagonicus are tested through a cladistic analysis of basal sauropodomorphs based on the anatomy of these specimens rather than on the post-hatchling and juvenile specimens previously known for this taxon. Mussaurus is recovered as a non-sauropod anchisaurian, being the sister group of Aardonyx plus more derived sauropodomorphs and is depicted outside the ‘quadrupedal clade,’ given the presence of plesiomorphic features such as a humerus/femur ratio <0.8, a curved femoral shaft in lateral view, and a nearly circular femoral midshaft cross-section. Mussaurus patagonicus adds new and valuable information that helps to clarify the core of the basal sauropodomorph-sauropod transition.
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