Field of Science

A New Specimen of the Middle Triassic Archosauriform Shansisuchus shansisuchus from China

Wang, R., Xu, S., , Wu, X., Li, C., and S. Wang. 2013. A New Specimen of Shansisuchus shansisuchus Young, 1964 (Diapsida: Archosauriformes) from the Triassic of Shanxi, China. Acta Geologica Sinica (English Edition) 87:1185-1197 DOI: 10.1111/1755-6724.12145

Abstract - Shansisuchus shansisuchus Young, 1964 was restudied on the basis of a new specimen. Some anatomical features that were either briefly or not described at all in the original study were detailed. The new specimen not only provides further information on the skull anatomy and the vertebral column but also expands the range of the geographical distribution of the taxon. With new information, the diagnosis of S. shansisuchus was emended and its phylogenetic relationships were further analyzed. S. shansisuchus differs from other archosauriforms primarily in the presence of a large subnarial fenestra anterior to the antorbital fenestra, tongue- n-groove articulations between the ascending process of the premaxilla and nasal and between the premaxilla and maxilla, a tall and posterodorsally directed ascending process of the maxilla, a knee-shaped process of the postorbital projecting into the orbit, a broad descending process of squamosal distally well forked and a large, deeply bow-shaped intercentrum tightly anchoring/capping the sharp ventral edges of two neighboring centra together in cervical and at least first eight dorsal vertebrae. With additional information derived from the new specimen, the phylogenetic relationships of S. shansisuchus were reanalyzed; it is closely related to Erythrosuchus-Vjushkovia clade.

Two New Late Triassic Phytosaur Papers

Stocker, M. R.. 2013. A new taxonomic arrangement for Paleorhinus scurriensis. Earth and Environmental Science Transactions of the Royal Society of Edinburgh (advance online publication)DOI:

Abstract - The paraphyletic genus ‘Paleorhinus’ is understood currently as a cosmopolitan phytosaur taxon from the Late Triassic. There is no consensus regarding the number of species of ‘Paleorhinus,’ with multiple species and genera synonymised into a single genus or even a single species at various points in its published history. The taxonomy is confounded by historical descriptions without the benefit of comparisons to more recently collected specimens, emphasis on plesiomorphic cranial morphology as diagnostic features of the genus,
and lack of cladistic analyses. When included in a recent explicitly cladistic phylogenetic analysis, the holotype of ‘Paleorhinusscurriensis (TTU P-00539) was found to be the earliest-branching phytosaur with respect to other North American specimens previously referred to ‘Paleorhinus,’ and is generically distinct from Paleorhinus. ‘Paleorhinusscurriensis differs from all known phytosaurs in five unambiguous characters: basitubera widely separated mediolaterally; ridge present on lateral surface of jugal; thickened shelf present along posteroventral edge of expanded pterygoid-quadrate wing; ‘septomaxillae’ separated and excluded from internarial septum; and nasal swelling present posterior to posterior borders of nares. This detailed morphological description of an early-branching phytosaur taxon is a first step towards resolving long-standing issues surrounding specific anatomical features and relationships among early members of the clade.

Hungerbühler, A., Mueller, B., Chatterjee, S., and D. P. Cunningham. 2013. Cranial anatomy of the Late Triassic phytosaur Machaeroprosopus, with the description of a new species from West Texas. Earth and Environmental Science Transactions of the Royal Society of Edinburgh (advance online publication) DOI:

Abstract - The skull anatomy of a new species of the phytosaur Machaeroprosopus is described for the first time on the basis of two specimens from the Upper Triassic Cooper Canyon Formation of Texas. Additional information is provided by a third specimen referred to Machaeroprosopus sp. A paranasal bone, an additional paired element of the narial region, is identified. Important new data are presented for the braincase, including the morphology of the epipterygoid and presphenoid, an anterior process of the prootic, an anteroventral process of the laterosphenoid, and a parasphenoid process. Machaeroprosopus lottorum n. sp. is characterised by four apomorphies: a supratemporal fenestra closed on the skull roof with beveled anterior rim, a comparatively short squamosal, a flat and rugose narial rim, and medially extended palatines that come close to form an ossified secondary palate. With respect to the supratemporal fenestra, the supraoccipital–parietal complex and several features of the squamosal, Machaeroprosopus lottorum n. sp. bridges the morphological gap between species previously referred to the genera Pseudopalatus and Redondasaurus. A parsimony analysis of known species of Machaeroprosopus supports the hypothesis that the development of the rostral crest in Machaeroprosopus is a sexually dimorphic feature, and questions the validity of the genus Redondasaurus. Consequently, Redondasaurus is here considered a junior synonym of Machaeroprosopus.

Ignotosaurus fragilis, a New Silesaurid Dinosauriform from the Late Triassic of Argentina and the Vertebrate Succession of the Ischigualasto Formation

Martínez, R. N., Apaldetti, C., Alcober, O. A., Colombi, C. E., Sereno, P. C., Fernandez, E., Santi Malnis, P., Correa, G. A., and D. Abelin. 2013. Vertebrate succession in the Ischigualasto
Formation, Journal of Vertebrate Paleontology, 32:sup1, 10-30, DOI: 10.1080/02724634.2013.818546

Abstract - The Upper Triassic (Carnian–Norian) Ischigualasto Formation has yielded a diverse vertebrate fauna that records the initial phase of dinosaur evolution. Radioisotopic dates from ash layers within the formation provide a chronostratigraphic framework, and stratigraphic and sedimetological studies have subdivided the formation into four members and three abundance-based biozones. We describe two new basal dinosauromorphs, an unnamed lagerpetid and a new silesaurid, Ignotosaurus fragilis, gen. et sp. nov., which increase to 29 the number of vertebrates in the Ischigualasto fauna. We provide a census of 848 fossil specimens representing 26 vertebrate taxa logged to stratigraphic intervals of 50 m. This temporally calibrated census shows that abundance and taxonomic diversity within the Ischigualasto Formation does not change suddenly but rather appears to gradually decline in response to climatic deterioration. The only abrupt shift in faunal composition occurs at the end of the second of three biozones, when the abundant cynodont Exaeretodon is replaced by the rare dicynodont Jachaleria.

Osteology of Eoraptor lunensis

Finally this is published. Now if I can just get the Revueltosaurus monograph out all will be right in the Triassic world, right?

Sereno, P. C., Martínez, R. N.,  and  O. A. Alcober. 2013. Osteology of Eoraptor lunensis (Dinosauria, Sauropodomorpha). Journal of Vertebrate Paleontology Memoir 12:83-179.

Abstract - We describe the basal sauropodomorph Eoraptor lunensis, based on the nearly complete holotypic skeleton and referred specimens, all of which were discovered in the Cancha de Bochas Member of the Ischigualasto Formation in northwestern Argentina. The lightly built skull has a slightly enlarged external naris and a spacious antorbital fossa with a prominent, everted dorsal margin and internal wall lacking any pneumatic extensions into surrounding bones. The tall quadrate is lapped along its anterior margin by the long, slender ventral process of the squamosal, and the lower jaw has a mid-mandibular joint between a tongue-shaped splenial process and a trough in the angular. All but the posterior-most maxillary and dentary crowns have a basal constriction, and the marginal denticles are larger and oriented more vertically than in typical theropod serrations. Rows of rudimentary palatal teeth are present on the pterygoid. Vertebral centra are hollow, although not demonstrably pneumatized,and all long bones have hollow shafts. The radius and ulna are more robust, the manus proportionately shorter, and the manual unguals less recurved than in the contemporaneous basal theropod Eodromaeus murphi. An outstanding feature of the manus of Eoraptor is the twisted shaft of the first phalanx of the pollex, which deflects medially the tip of the ungual as in basal sauropodomorphs. The long bones of the hind limb have more robust shafts than those of Eodromaeus, although in both genera the tibia remains slightly longer than the femur.

Resumen - Describimos el sauropodomorfo basal Eoraptor lunensis basados en el esqueleto prácticamente completo del holotipo y especímenes referidos, todos ellos descubiertos en el Miembro Cancha de Bochas de la Formaci ón Ischigualasto, en el noroeste de Argentina. El grácil cráneo tiene las narinas externas ligeramente agrandadas, una amplia fosa antorbital con un margen dorsal prominente y evertido, y ausencia de extensiones neumáticas en los huesos circundantes. El alto cuadrado presenta todo su margen anterior solapado por el delgado proceso ventral del escamoso y la mandíbula tiene una junta medial entre un proceso linguoide del esplenial y un canal en el angular. Todas las coronas dentarias y maxilares, menos las más posteriores, tienen una constricci ón basal y los dentículos marginales son largos y orientados más verticalmente que en el aserrado típico de los terópodos. El pterigoideo tiene filas de dientes palatales rudimentarios. Los centros de las vértebras son huecos, aunque no demostrablemente neumatizados, y todos los huesos largos tienen las di íafisis huecas. El radio y la ulna son más robustos, la mano proporcionalmente corta y los ungueales manuales menos recurvados que en el contemporáneo terópodo basal Eodromaeus murphi. Una característica sobresaliente de la mano de Eoraptor es la rotaci ón de la primera falange del pulgar, que desvía medialmente la punta del ungueal como en los sauropodomorfos basales. Los huesos largos de las piernas tienen di áfisis más robustas que aquellas de Eodromaeus, aunque en ambos géneros la tibia es ligeramente más larga que el fémur.