Cranial morphology of a new phytosaur (Diapsida, Archosauria) from the Upper Triassic of India: implications for phytosaur phylogeny and biostratigraphy

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Research Article

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Papers in Palaeontology


Detailed description and phylogenetic assessment of a phytosaur skull collected from the Tiki Formation of the Rewa Gondwana Basin of India and earlier diagnosed as Parasuchus hislopi, show that it pertains to a new genus and species, Volcanosuchus statisticae. The new taxon is characterized by marginal overlapping of the nostrils by the antorbital fenestrae, external nares situated on a bulbous and raised dome, the lateral surface of the jugal ornamented by a prominent ridge defined by multiple tubercles and radiating thread-like structures, and distinct ornamentation patterns on the rostrum and skull table. Phylogenetic analysis nests Volcanosuchus within Mystriosuchinae, where it forms a sister taxon to (Rutiodon + Leptosuchomorpha) and marks the transition between the basal Parasuchidae and more derived Mystriosuchinae phytosaurs. Evolution of the phytosaur skulls resulted in changes from non-overlapping nostril and antorbital fenestra to an overlapping state, anteroposterior elongation of the exoccipital–supraoccipital shelf, appearance of a median ridge on the basioccipital, and reduction of the supratemporal fenestra. Considerable faunal overlap of the Tiki Formation is evident with the lower Maleri Formation, which is late Carnian based on the occurrence of Hyperodapedon, Parasuchus and Exaeretodon. The Tiki Formation correlates with the Ischigualasto Formation of Argentina, the upper part of the Santa Maria Formation, and the overlying lower Caturrita Formation of Brazil, the Isalo II Beds of Madagascar, Lossiemouth Sandstone of Scotland, and the lower Tecovas Formation of the Chinle Group of North America, and ranges from late Carnian to early/middle Norian.

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