Field of Science

Reanalysis of the Diapsid Reptile Elachistosuchus huenei from the Late Triassic of Germany

Sobral, G., Sues, H.-D., and J. Müller. 2015. Anatomy of the enigmatic reptile Elachistosuchus huenei Janensch, 1949 (Reptilia: Diapsida) from the Upper Triassic of Germany and its relevance for the origin of Sauria. PLoS ONE 10(9): e0135114. doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0135114

Abstract - The holotype and only known specimen of the enigmatic small reptile Elachistosuchus huenei Janensch, 1949 from the Upper Triassic (Norian) Arnstadt Formation of Saxony-Anhalt (Germany) is redescribed using μCT scans of the material. This re-examination revealed new information on the morphology of this taxon, including previously unknown parts of the skeleton such as the palate, braincase, and shoulder girdle. Elachistosuchus is diagnosed especially by the presence of the posterolateral process of the frontal, the extension of the maxillary tooth row to the posterior margin of the orbit, the free posterior process of the jugal, and the notched anterior margin of the interclavicle. Phylogenetic analyses using two recently published character-taxon matrices recovered conflicting results for the phylogenetic position of Elachistosuchus–either as an archosauromorph, as a lepidosauromorph or as a more basal, non-saurian diapsid. These different placements highlight the need of a thorough revision of critical taxa and new character sets used for inferring neodiapsid relationships.