Further Evidence of Burrowing in Procolophonid Parareptiles

MacDougall, M. J., Modesto, S. P., and J. Botha-Brink. 2012. The postcranial skeleton of the Early Triassic parareptile Sauropareion anoplus, with a discussion of possible life history. Acta Palaeontologica Polonica in press. Available online 27 Feb 2012 doi: http://dx.doi.org/10.4202/app.2011.0099.

Abstract - The skeletal anatomy of the Early Triassic (Induan) procolophonid reptile Sauropareion anoplus is described on the basis of three partial skeletons from Vangfontein, Middelburg District, South Africa. Together these three specimens preserve the large majority of the pectoral and pelvic girdles, articulated forelimbs and hindlimbs, and all but the caudal portion of the vertebral column, elements hitherto undescribed. Our phylogenetic analysis of the Procolophonoidea is consonant with previous work, positing S. anoplus as the sister taxon to a clade composed of all other procolophonids exclusive of Coletta seca. Previous studies have suggested that procolophonids were burrowers, and this seems to have been the case for S. anoplus, based on comparisons with characteristic skeletal anatomy of living digging animals, such as the presence of a spade-shaped skull, robust phalanges, and large unguals.

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