Today’s topic covers a traditionally unrecognized clade of reptiles
recovered (so far) only by the LRT. Many members (Figs. 1–4) are traditionally considered uninteresting. Others are considered members of unrelated clades. Many of their names are not known by the next crop of paleontologists, let alone the general public. Worse yet, some (see below) are not even considered reptiles by university professors and textbook authors.
in the large reptile tree (LRT, 2003+ taxa; subset Fig. 2) plain and unremarkable Milleretta (Figs. 1–4) gives rise to all later lepidosauromorphs: diadectids (including procolophonids and bolosaurids), nyteroleterids (including owenettids and lepidosauriformes), and stephanospondylids (including pareiasaurs and turtles). Most, if not all of these taxa were herbivores.
Not sure why
these relationships have gone unnoticed until the LRT recovered them in 2011. These taxa all look more or less alike. Some were bigger, others smaller. Some had flaring cheeks, other lost their cheeks to develop lateral temporal fenestra. Some had procumbent premaxillary teeth, others lost all teeth. Some had long tails, others did not. Some were armored, others were not. Later descendants learned to glide, fly, run bipedally, swim, slither, burrow and kill… but today we’re looking at only the proximal descendants of Milleretta (Figs. 1–4).
diadectids (Fig. 1) have been known as reptilomorphs, in other words: not even reptiles. This myth arises from taxon exclusion and cherry-picking taught at the university level. This is especially odd because all the surrounding taxa are universally accepted as reptiles. Here in the LRT (subset Fig. 2) diadectids nested within lepidosauromorph reptiles in 2011. Diadectids look nothing like any known reptilomorphs.
The basal taxon, Milleretta,
(Figs. 1–4) is still considered a ‘parareptile’ in textbooks and Wikipedia. Due to taxon exclusion ‘Parareptilia‘ has been shown to be an invalid wastebasket of unrelated reptiles.
In the LRT
(subset Fig. 2) all taxa are equally important no matter how ‘uninteresting’ they appear to others. All taxa in the LRT are important because they keep solving phylogenetic problems better than the more spectacular taxa. That’s something you, too, will find out when you add these taxa to your cladogram.
Saved for last,
the first clade to arise from Milleretta includes the synapsid-mimic Caseasauria clade (Figs. 2–4) plus the Feeserpeton clade that includes the more famous turtle-mimics Eunotosaurus and Eorhynchochelys. These last two taxa have been mistakenly associated with turtles in academic circles, but this is only due to excluding the taxa listed and illustrated above.
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