Field of Science

Systematics of Putative Euparkeriids from the Triassic of China

Sookias, R. B., Sullivan, C., Liu, J., and R. J. Butler. 2014. Systematics of putative euparkeriids (Diapsida: Archosauriformes) from the Triassic of China. PeerJ 2:e658 doi:http://dx.doi.org/10.7717/peerj.658

Abstract - The South African species Euparkeria capensis is of great importance for understanding the early radiation of archosauromorphs (including archosaurs) following the Permo–Triassic mass extinction, as most phylogenetic analyses place it as the sister taxon to crown group Archosauria within the clade Archosauriformes. Although a number of species from Lower–Middle Triassic deposits worldwide have been referred to the putative clade Euparkeriidae, the monophyly of Euparkeriidae is controversial and has yet to be demonstrated by quantitative phylogenetic analysis. Three Chinese taxa have been recently suggested to be euparkeriids: Halazhaisuchus qiaoensis, ‘Turfanosuchus shageduensis’, and Wangisuchus tzeyii, all three of which were collected from the Middle Triassic Ermaying Formation of northern China. Here, we reassess the taxonomy and systematics of these taxa. We regard Wangisuchus tzeyii as a nomen dubium, because the holotype is undiagnostic and there is no convincing evidence that the previously referred additional specimens represent the same taxon as the holotype. We also regard ‘Turfanosuchus shageduensis’ as a nomen dubium as we are unable to identify any diagnostic features. We refer the holotype to Archosauriformes, and more tentatively to Euparkeriidae. Halazhaisuchus qiaoensis and the holotype of 'Turfanosuchus shageduensis’ are resolved as sister taxa in a phylogenetic analysis, and are in turn the sister taxon to Euparkeria capensis, forming a monophyletic Euparkeriidae that is the sister to Archosauria+Phytosauria. This is the first quantitative phylogenetic analysis to recover a non-monospecific, monophyletic Euparkeriidae, but euparkeriid monophyly is only weakly supported and will require additional examination. Given their similar sizes, stratigraphic positions and phylogenetic placement, the holotype of ‘Turfanosuchus shageduensis’ may represent a second individual of Halazhaisuchus qiaoensis, but no apomorphies or unique character combination can be
identified to unambiguously unite the two. Our results have important implications for understanding the species richness and palaeobiogeographical distribution of early archosauriforms.

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