Field of Science

Paleoenvironmental Interpretation of a Fossil Locality from the Late Triassic of Germany

Havlik, P., Aiglstorfer, M., Atfy, Haytham, E. and D. Uhl, Dieter. 2013. A peculiar bonebed from the Norian Stubensandstein (Löwenstein Formation, Late Triassic) of southern Germany and its palaeoenvironmental interpretation. Neues Jahrbuch für Geologie und Paläontologie, Abhandlungen 269 : 321-337

Abstract - Despite the abundance of Triassic outcrops in S Germany knowledge about continental ecosystems from the Norian is rather scarce so far for this region. A new fossil-bearing site from the Lower Löwenstein Formation (Unterer Stubensandstein; Norian) of north-eastern Baden-Württemberg (SW Germany), discovered in 2011, yielded disarticulated vertebrate remains together with a moderately diverse palynoflora, ichnofossils and gymnospermous charcoal. These remains are accumulated in a bonebed layer. Palynomorphs support a Late Triassic age of the source sediment, showing a high diversity of conifers. The new site provides the second conclusive evidence for wildfires in the Norian of Europe and the first record of phytosaurs from Schwäbisch Gmünd. Based on sedimentological evidence and taphonomical interpretations of the charcoal remains, it seems possible that the bonebed can be regarded as the result of increased erosion following catastrophic wildfire.

Redescription of the Middle Triassic Diapsid Megachirella wachtleri, an Early Branching Lepidosauromorph

Renesto, S.,  and M. Bernardi. 2013. Redescription and phylogenetic relationships of Megachirella wachtleri Renesto et Posenato, 2003 (Reptilia, Diapsida). Paläontologische Zeitschrift. DOI: 10.1007/s12542-013-0194-0
Abstract - Megachirella wachtleri Renesto et Posenato, 2003, a well preserved partial reptile skeleton from the Middle Triassic of the Dolomites (N. Italy), was originally considered a lepidosauromorph, but no phylogenetic analysis was carried out. Consequently, the taxon was overlooked in later phylogenetic analyses of the Diapsida. Here, the holotype and only known specimen of M. wachtleri is redescribed, allowing an investigation of its phylogenetic relationships. Phylogenetic analyses confirm that Megachirella is a lepidosauromorph close to the crown group lepidosaurs (Squamata + Rhynchocephalia). Megachirella enhances our knowledge of the series of morphological modifications that led to the origin of the Lepidosauria, the most diverse clade of extant reptiles.

Halticosaurus orbitoangulatus is a Pseudosuchian, Not a Dinosaur

Brian Switek has the details regarding this new study at his blog Laelaps.

Sues, H.-D., and R. R. Schoch. 2013. Reassessment of cf. Halticosaurus orbitoangulatus from the Upper Triassic (Norian) of Germany – a pseudosuchian, not a dinosaur. Zoological Journal of the Linnean Society 168(4): 859–872 DOI: 10.1111/zoj.12038

Abstract - The holotype of cf. Halticosaurus orbitoangulatus Huene, 1932, comprises an incomplete and macerated but associated skull of an archosaurian reptile from the middle (second) Stubensandstein (middle Löwenstein Formation; Upper Triassic: Norian) of Baden-Württemberg, Germany. It was originally interpreted as a theropod dinosaur but more recently it has been suggested that this taxon has crocodylomorph affinities. Detailed preparation of the holotype of cf. H. orbitoangulatus has revealed much new anatomical information and permitted reassessment of its affinities. The maxilla lacks both a distinct antorbital fossa and a medial bony lamina bordering the antorbital fenestra. The lateral surface of the dentary bears a pronounced horizontal ridge. The squamosal differs from that of basal crocodylomorphs in being L-shaped rather than arcuate in dorsal view, lacking a dorsolateral overhang, and lacking an interlocking contact with the paroccipital process as, for example, in the basal crocodylomorph Saltoposuchus connectens from the same horizon and locality. Phylogenetic analysis placed cf. H. orbitoangulatus amongst loricatan pseudosuchians (but not amongst Crocodylomorpha) rather than amongst theropod dinosaurs. The holotype of cf. H. orbitoangulatus represents a previously unrecognized taxon of loricatan pseudosuchian, which is here named Apatosuchus orbitoangulatus and set apart from other known Norian-age non-crocodylomorph loricatans by its apparently much smaller size.

Two New Early Archosaur Papers

These are the last two articles from the forthcoming volume titled "Anatomy, Phylogeny and Palaeobiology of Early Archosaurs and their Kin". The book should be available for purchase soon from the Geological Society of London.

Liparini, A., and C. L. Schultz. 2013. A reconstruction of the thigh musculature of the extinct pseudosuchian Prestosuchus chiniquensis from the Dinodontosaurus Assemblage Zone (Middle Triassic Epoch), Santa Maria 1 Sequence, southern Brazil. From Nesbitt, S. J., Desojo, J. B. & Irmis, R. B. (eds) Anatomy, Phylogeny and Palaeobiology of Early Archosaurs and their Kin. Geological Society, London, Special Publications, 379. 

Abstract - Prestosuchus chiniquensis is an extinct species of terrestrial archosaur from the Middle Triassic Epoch restricted to southern Brazil. In this paper the thigh musculature of P. chiniquensis is reconstructed based on a well-preserved specimen and on myological descriptions of extant birds and crocodylians. Among the 16 analysed muscular groups, 13 were recognized as present and homologous to both extant groups of archosaurs, and two only to the crocodylian line of archosaurs, so that 15 muscular groups were reconstructed in the fossil specimen. Morphological particularities of the pelvic girdle and the hindlimbs of P. chiniquensis gave a distinct arrangement for the muscular origin and insertion sites, leading to different lines of action and functions when compared with extant archosaurs. The comparison between extinct and extant archosaurs showed a basal condition sustained in some aspects, such as the morphology of the femur and the flexion of the knee, although other aspects were considered as derived, such as the morphology of the pubis and ischium, and their associated muscle origin locations.

Raugust, T., Lacerda, M., and C. L. Schultz. 2013. The first occurrence of Chanaresuchus bonapartei Romer 1971 (Archosauriformes, Proterochampsia) of the Middle Triassic of Brazil from the Santacruzodon Assemblage Zone, Santa Maria Formation (Paraná Basin). From Nesbitt, S. J., Desojo, J. B. & Irmis, R. B. (eds) Anatomy, Phylogeny and Palaeobiology of Early Archosaurs and their Kin. Geological Society, London, Special Publications, 379.

Abstract - Proterochampsians are basal archosauriforms whose record is restricted to the Middle and Upper Triassic in Argentina and Brazil. They are quadruped forms that present characteristics consistent with a semi-aquatic lifestyle, such as an anteroposteriorly elongated skull that is flattened dorsoventrally with dorsally located orbits. In 2003, specimen UFRGS-PV-0877-T was discovered at the Schoenstadt site, in the city of Santa Cruz do Sul (Santacruzodon Assemblage Zone, Santa Maria Formation). This specimen, consisting of disarticulated cranial elements (such as nasals, frontals, parietals, postorbitals, a left squamosal, a left pterygoid and a fragment of a right mandibular ramus that bears teeth) and postcranial elements (such as femora, the left tibia, one vertebral centrum and two rib fragments), is assigned to the ‘proterochampsian’ Chanaresuchus bonapartei Romer (1971). This assignment is based on the shared V-shaped frontal-parietal suture of the new specimen and Chanaresuchus bonapartei, which differs from the transversely aligned and zigzagged pattern of C. ischigualastensis.