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Teraterpeton: more post-crania

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Pritchard and Sues 2019
bring us additional post-cranial data on Teraterpeton (Fig. 1, Sues 2003), the long-snouted sister to Trilophosaurus with an atypical antorbital fenestra and displaced naris.

Figure 1. Teraterpeton with new elements added. Toes are largely unknown, but added here based on proximal phalanges. None of these elements come as a surprise, based on phylogenetic bracketing in the LRT. Note the lepidosaur-like hind limbs, because this IS a lepidosaur.

Teraterpeton hrynewichorum (Sues 2003, Pritchard and Sues 2019) Late Triassic, ~215 mya, was described as euryapsid (lacking a lateral temporal fenestra) and possibly related to the rhynchocephalian, Trilophosaurus on that basis. Here Teraterpeton is a sister to Trllophosaurus, but with a stretched out rostrum, an antorbital fenestra and fewer teeth, still characteristically narrower at the root line. Teraterpeton also nests between Sapheosaurus and Mesosuchus. at the junction between the primitive sphenodontids and the advanced rhynchosaurs (see the LRT), all within the Lepidosauria. The manual unguals are robust with disparate sizes. The large acetabulum was open posteriorly and taller than the rest of the ilium. The metatarsals overlapped considerably. The asymmetry of the metatarsals is typical of sprawling taxa, like lizards.

Figure 2. Cladogram from Pritchard and Sues 2019 showing the nesting of Teraterpeton with Trilophosaurus. The yellow taxa are lepidosauromorphs and the green taxa are archosauromorphs in the LRT. Taxon exclusion folds them together like a deck of cards.

The Pritchard and Sues (P+S) Teraterpeton cladogram
(Fig. 2) shuffles lepidosauromorphs (yellow) and archosaurmorphs (green) together like a deck of cards. Unfortunately the authors were following old traditional cladograms that wrongly considered Diapsida monophyletic. The large reptile tree (LRT, 1395 taxa) separates lepidosauromorphs from archosauromorphs at the first reptile dichotomy, a factor not recognized by the authors. Taxon exclusion is a problem here.

Where do we agree?

  1. Coelurosauravus and kin nest with drepanosaurs.
  2. Teraterpeton is close to Trilophosaurus, Shringisaurus and Azendohsaurus
  3. Lepidosaurs, like Huehuecuetzpalli, nest close to Rhynchocephalians
  4. Tritosaurs, like Macrocnemus, nest with Tanystropheus

Where do we disagree?

  1. The glider Coelurosauravus should nest with the gliding kuehneosaurs, not close to the aquatic Claudiosaurus.
  2. but not with unrelated basal diapsids, like Petrolacosaurus and Orovenator, which nest in the Archosauromorpha.
  3. All the protorosaurs (Prolacerta, Pamelaria, Protorosaurus, Boreopricea, Ozimek, should nest together.

Without an understanding
of the basal Lepidosauromorpha/Archosauromorpha dichotomy following the basalmost amniote, Silvanerpeton in the Viséan, taxon exclusion blurs the differences between archosauromorph-like lepidosaurs and lepidosaur-like protorosaurs, convergent with one another.

Convergence is revealed by the LRT
not by the Pritchard and Sues cladogram that suffers from taxon exclusion. Add taxa to recover the basal split between the new Archosauromorpha and the new Lepidosauromorpha.

Pritchard AC and Sues H-D 2019. Postcranial remains of Teraterpeton hrynewichorum
(Reptilia: Archosauromorpha) and the mosaic evolution of the saurian postcranial skeleton. Journal of Systematic Palaeontology, DOI: 10.1080/14772019.2018.1551249
Sues H-D 2003. An unusual new archosauromorph reptile from the Upper Triassic Wolfville Formation of Nova Scotia. Canadian. Journal of Earth Science 40(4): 635-649.


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