Scleromochlus

Scleromochlus (Greek for "hard fulcrum") is an extinct genus of small avemetatarsalians from the Late Triassic period.

Scleromochlus
Temporal range: Late Triassic, Carnian
Cast of Scleromochlus taylori - Pterosaurs Flight in the Age of Dinosaurs
Cast of the holotype
Scientific classification
Kingdom: Animalia
Phylum: Chordata
Clade: Archosauria
Clade: Avemetatarsalia
Family: Scleromochlidae
Huene, 1914
Genus: Scleromochlus
Woodward, 1907
Species:
S. taylori
Binomial name
Scleromochlus taylori
Woodward, 1907

Description

Scleromochlus BW
Restoration

Scleromochlus taylori was about 181 mm (about 7.1 inches) long, with long hind legs; it may have been capable of four-legged and two-legged locomotion. Most recent studies about its gait suggest that it engaged in kangaroo- or springhare-like plantigrade hopping;[1][2][3] if Scleromochlus is indeed related to pterosaurs, this may offer insight as to how the latter evolved, since early pterosaurs also show adaptations for saltatorial locomotion.[4]

Discovery

Its fossils have been found in the Carnian Lossiemouth Sandstone of Scotland. The holotype is BMNH R3556, a partial skeleton preserved as an impression in sandstone; part of the skull and tail are missing.[5]

Scleromochlus is a monotypic genus (single species), including the type species S. taylori.

Classification

Scleromochlus taylori
Skeletal diagram

A lightly built cursorial animal, its phylogenetic position has been debated; as different analyses have found it to be either the basal-most ornithodiran, the sister-taxon to Pterosauria, or a basal member of Avemetatarsalia that lies outside of Ornithodira. In the phylogenetic analyses conducted by Nesbitt et al. (2017) Scleromochlus was recovered either as a basal member of Dinosauromorpha or as a non-aphanosaurian, non-pterosaur basal avemetatarsalian. However, the authors stressed that scoring Scleromochlus was challenging given the small size and poor preservation of the fossils, and stated that it could not be scored for many of the important characters that optimize near the base of Avemetatarsalia.

References

  1. ^ Sereno et Arcucci 1993; 1994
  2. ^ Benton 1999
  3. ^ Witton, Mark P. (2013). Pterosaurs: Natural History, Evolution, Anatomy. Princeton University Press. ISBN 978-0691150611.
  4. ^ Witton, Mark P. (2015). "Were early pterosaurs inept terrestrial locomotors?". PeerJ. 3: e1018. doi:10.7717/peerj.1018. PMC 4476129. PMID 26157605.
  5. ^ Basic information from Fossilsmith

Sources

1907 in paleontology

Paleontology or palaeontology is the study of prehistoric life forms on Earth through the examination of plant and animal fossils. This includes the study of body fossils, tracks (ichnites), burrows, cast-off parts, fossilised feces (coprolites), palynomorphs and chemical residues. Because humans have encountered fossils for millennia, paleontology has a long history both before and after becoming formalized as a science. This article records significant discoveries and events related to paleontology that occurred or were published in the year 1907.

Anchisauria

The Anchisauria were a clade of sauropodomorph dinosaurs that lived during the Late Triassic and Early Jurassic. The name Anchisauria was first used by Galton and Upchurch in the second edition of The Dinosauria. Galton and Upchurch assigned two families of dinosaurs to the Anchisauria: the Anchisauridae and the Melanorosauridae. The more common prosauropods Plateosaurus and Massospondylus were placed in the sister clade Plateosauria.

However, recent research indicates that Anchisaurus is closer to sauropods than traditional prosauropods; thus, Anchisauria would also include Sauropoda.The following cladogram simplified after an analysis presented by Blair McPhee and colleagues in 2014.

Avemetatarsalia

Avemetatarsalia (meaning "bird metatarsals") is a clade name established by British palaeontologist Michael Benton in 1999 for all crown group archosaurs that are closer to birds than to crocodilians. An alternate name is Pan-Aves, or "all birds", in reference to its definition containing all animals, living or extinct, which are more closely related to birds than to crocodilians. Almost all avemetatarsalians are members of a similarly defined subgroup, Ornithodira. Ornithodira is defined as the last common ancestor of dinosaurs and pterosaurs, and all of its descendants.Members of this group include the Dinosauromorpha, Pterosauromorpha, the genus Scleromochlus, and Aphanosauria. Dinosauromorpha contains more basal forms, including Lagerpeton and Marasuchus, as well as more derived forms, including dinosaurs. Birds belong to the dinosaurs as members of the theropods. Pterosauromorpha contains Pterosauria, which were the first vertebrates capable of true flight. Aphanosauria is a Triassic group of gracile carnivorous quadrupeds which was recognized in 2017.

Averostra

Averostra, or "bird snouts", is a clade that includes most theropod dinosaurs that have a promaxillary fenestra (fenestra promaxillaris), an extra opening in the front outer side of the maxilla, the bone that makes up the upper jaw. Two groups of averostrans, the Ceratosauria and the Orionides, survived into the Cretaceous period. When the Cretaceous–Paleogene extinction event occurred, ceratosaurians and two groups of orionideans within the clade Coelurosauria, the Tyrannosauroidea and Maniraptoriformes, were still extant. Only one subgroup of maniraptoriformes, Aves, survived the extinction event and persisted to the present day.

Avetheropoda

Avetheropoda, or "bird theropods", is a clade that includes carnosaurians and coelurosaurs to the exclusion of other dinosaurs.

Cerapoda

Cerapoda ("ceratopsians and ornithopods") is a clade of the dinosaur order Ornithischia.

Dinosauriformes

Dinosauriformes is a clade of archosaurian reptiles that include the dinosaurs and their most immediate relatives. All dinosauriformes are distinguished by several features, such as shortened forelimbs and a partially to fully perforated acetabulum, the hole in the hip socket traditionally used to define dinosaurs. The oldest known member is Asilisaurus, dating to about 245 million years ago in the Anisian age of the middle Triassic period.

Jeholosauridae

Jeholosaurids were herbivorous neornithischian dinosaurs from the Cretaceous Period (Aptian - Santonian, with a possible Campanian record) of Asia. The family was first proposed by Han et al. in 2012. The jeholosaurids were defined as those ornithischians more closely related to Jeholosaurus shangyuanensis than to Hypsilophodon foxii, Iguanodon bernissartensis, Protoceratops andrewsi, Pachycephalosaurus wyomingensis, or Thescelosaurus neglectus. The Jeholosauridae includes the type genus Jeholosaurus and Yueosaurus.

Jingshanosaurus

Jingshanosaurus (meaning "Jingshan lizard") is a genus of sauropodomorph dinosaurs from the early Jurassic period.

Melanorosauridae

The Melanorosauridae were a family of sauropodomorph dinosaurs which lived during the Late Triassic and Early Jurassic. The name Melanorosauridae was first coined by Friedrich von Huene in 1929. Huene assigned several families of dinosaurs to the infraorder "Prosauropoda": the Anchisauridae, the Plateosauridae, the Thecodontosauridae, and the Melanorosauridae. Since then, these families have undergone numerous revisions. Galton and Upchurch (2004) considered Camelotia, Lessemsaurus, and Melanorosaurus members of the family Melanorosauridae. A more recent study by Yates (2007) indicates that the melanorosaurids were instead early sauropods.

Neotheropoda

Neotheropoda (meaning "new theropods") is a clade that includes coelophysoids and more advanced theropod dinosaurs, and the only group of theropods who survived the Triassic–Jurassic extinction event. Yet all of the neotheropods became extinct during the early Jurassic period except for Averostra.

Orionides

Orionides is a clade of tetanuran theropod dinosaurs from the Middle Jurassic to the Present. The clade includes most theropod dinosaurs, including birds.

Orodrominae

Orodrominae is a subfamily of parksosaurid dinosaurs from the Cretaceous of North America and Asia.

Raeticodactylidae

Raeticodactylidae is a family of eudimorphodontoid eopterosaurian pterosaurs that lived in Switzerland during the Late Triassic. The family includes Caviramus, and the type genus Raeticodactylus, which are both known from the Kössen Formation, around 205 mya. Raeticodactylidae was first used in 2014 by Andres et al., as a group of all pterosaurs closer to Raeticodactylus than Eudimorphodon. The following phylogenetic analysis follows the topology of Andres et al. (2014).

Riojasauridae

Riojasauridae is a family of sauropod-like dinosaurs from the Upper Triassic. It is known primarily from the genera Riojasaurus and Eucnemesaurus. Sites containing Riojasauridae include the Lower Elliot Formation of Orange Free State, South Africa (where fossils of Eucnemesaurus have been found), and Ischigualasto, in La Rioja Province, Argentina ( where fossils of Riojasaurus have been recovered).

Silesaurus

Silesaurus is a genus of silesaurid dinosauriform from the Late Triassic, approximately 230 million years ago in the Carnian faunal stage of what is now Poland.

Fossilized remains of Silesaurus have been found in the Keuper Claystone in Krasiejów near Opole, Silesia, Poland, which is also the origin of its name. The type species, Silesaurus opolensis, was described by Jerzy Dzik in 2003. It is known from some 20 skeletons, making it one of the best-represented of the early dinosauriformes.

Teleocrater

Teleocrater (meaning "completed basin", in reference to its closed acetabulum) is a genus of avemetatarsalian archosaur from the Middle Triassic Manda Formation of Tanzania. The name was coined by English paleontologist Alan Charig in his 1956 doctoral dissertation, but was only formally published in 2017 by Sterling Nesbitt and colleagues. The genus contains the type and only species T. rhadinus. Uncertainty over the affinities of Teleocrater have persisted since Charig's initial publication; they were not resolved until Nesbitt et al. performed a phylogenetic analysis. They found that Teleocrater is most closely related to the similarly enigmatic Yarasuchus, Dongusuchus, and Spondylosoma in a group that was named the Aphanosauria. Aphanosauria was found to be the sister group of the Ornithodira, the group containing dinosaurs and pterosaurs.

A carnivorous quadruped measuring 7–10 feet (2.1–3.0 m) long, Teleocrater is notable for its unusually long neck vertebrae. The neural canals in its neck vertebrae gradually become taller towards the back of the neck, which may be a distinguishing trait. Unlike the Lagerpetidae or Ornithodira, the hindlimbs of Teleocrater are not adapted for running; the metatarsal bones are not particularly elongated. Also unlike lagerpetids and ornithodirans, Teleocrater inherited the more flexible ankle configuration present ancestrally among archosaurs, suggesting that the same configuration was also ancestral to Avemetatarsalia but was lost independently by several lineages. Histology of the long bones of Teleocrater indicates that it had moderately fast growth rates, closer to ornithodirans than crocodilians and other pseudosuchians.

Xixiposaurus

Xixiposaurus is a genus of prosauropod dinosaur which existed in what is now Lower Lufeng Formation, China during the lower Jurassic period. It was first named by Sekiya Toru in 2010 and the type species is Xixiposaurus suni.

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