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Description and phylogenetic placement of a new marine species of phytosaur (Archosauriformes: Phytosauria) from the Late Triassic of Austria


Butler, Richard J; Jones, Andrew S; Buffetaut, Eric; Mandl, Gerhard W; Scheyer, Torsten M; Schultz, Ortwin (2019). Description and phylogenetic placement of a new marine species of phytosaur (Archosauriformes: Phytosauria) from the Late Triassic of Austria. Zoological Journal of the Linnean Society, 187(1):198-228.

Abstract

Phytosaurs are a group of carnivorous, semi-aquatic archosaurian reptiles that attained an almost global distribution during the Late Triassic. We here describe a new species of the phytosaur genus Mystriosuchus from the Norian Dachstein Limestone of Austria, from a marine lagoonal depositional environment. The new Austrian material comprises remains of at least four individuals of similar size (c. 4 m in total length) found in association but disarticulated, and includes one complete and two partial skulls and postcrania. All of these specimens apparently represent a single taxon, which is distinguished by numerous anatomical features from the two previously named Mystriosuchus species. Maximum parsimony analysis of a comprehensive morphological dataset provides strong statistical support for the phylogenetic position of the new Austrian taxon in Mystriosuchus, as the sister taxon to a clade comprising M. planirostris and M. westphali. Histological analysis suggests that the Austrian phytosaur specimens represent individuals that were at least eight years old at time of death, but which had not yet reached skeletal maturity. Taphonomic and palaeoenvironmental data suggest that these phytosaurs were living in the marine lagoon in which they were preserved, providing the strongest evidence to date of marine adaptations in phytosaurs.
ADDITIONAL KEYWORDS: bone histology – fossils – marine adaptations – morphology – phylogeny – reptiles.

Abstract

Phytosaurs are a group of carnivorous, semi-aquatic archosaurian reptiles that attained an almost global distribution during the Late Triassic. We here describe a new species of the phytosaur genus Mystriosuchus from the Norian Dachstein Limestone of Austria, from a marine lagoonal depositional environment. The new Austrian material comprises remains of at least four individuals of similar size (c. 4 m in total length) found in association but disarticulated, and includes one complete and two partial skulls and postcrania. All of these specimens apparently represent a single taxon, which is distinguished by numerous anatomical features from the two previously named Mystriosuchus species. Maximum parsimony analysis of a comprehensive morphological dataset provides strong statistical support for the phylogenetic position of the new Austrian taxon in Mystriosuchus, as the sister taxon to a clade comprising M. planirostris and M. westphali. Histological analysis suggests that the Austrian phytosaur specimens represent individuals that were at least eight years old at time of death, but which had not yet reached skeletal maturity. Taphonomic and palaeoenvironmental data suggest that these phytosaurs were living in the marine lagoon in which they were preserved, providing the strongest evidence to date of marine adaptations in phytosaurs.
ADDITIONAL KEYWORDS: bone histology – fossils – marine adaptations – morphology – phylogeny – reptiles.

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Additional indexing

Item Type:Journal Article, refereed, original work
Communities & Collections:07 Faculty of Science > Paleontological Institute and Museum
Dewey Decimal Classification:560 Fossils & prehistoric life
Uncontrolled Keywords:Animal Science and Zoology, Ecology, Evolution, Behavior and Systematics
Language:English
Date:23 August 2019
Deposited On:16 May 2019 13:15
Last Modified:02 Dec 2019 14:16
Publisher:Wiley-Blackwell Publishing, Inc.
ISSN:0024-4082
OA Status:Closed
Publisher DOI:https://doi.org/10.1093/zoolinnean/zlz014
Project Information:
  • : FunderSNSF
  • : Grant ID205321_162775
  • : Project TitleProtorosaur phylogeny and palaeobiogeography: marine versus arboreal, dispersal versus vicariance
  • : FunderFP7
  • : Grant ID630123
  • : Project TitleARCHOSAUR RISE - The early Mesozoic rise of archosaurs: New insights into an exemplar evolutionary radiation

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