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Clues to Origin of Mysterious Tanystropheid Reptiles From New Brazilian Fossil

Life restoration of Elessaurus gondwanoccidens, from the Sanga do Cabral Formation (Decrease Triassic), Brazil. Credit score: Márcio L. Castro

New species named after Tolkien’s Aragorn hints at early southern evolution for these reptiles.

A brand new species of Triassic reptile from Brazil is an in depth cousin of a mysterious group known as tanystropheids, in accordance to a examine printed April 8, 2020 within the open-access journal PLOS ONE by Tiane De-Oliviera of the Federal College of Santa Maria, Brazil and colleagues.

After the Permian mass extinction, 250 million years in the past, reptiles took over world ecosystems. Among the many early teams to seem after this extinction occasion had been the tanystropheids, a bunch of long-necked animals whose existence are nonetheless mysterious, however who had been nonetheless profitable within the Triassic Interval. Nevertheless, the early evolution of this group is poorly understood, as their stays are very uncommon from the Early Triassic.

On this examine, De-Oliviera and colleagues describe a brand new specimen of reptile from Early Triassic rocks of the Sanga do Cabral Formation in southern Brazil. Skeletal comparability signifies this specimen, identified from stays of the hind leg, pelvis, and tail, is the closest identified relative of tanystropheids. The researchers recognized these stays as belonging to a brand new species, which they named Elessaurus gondwanoccidens. The title derives partially from the Elvish title (Elessar) of a personality from Lord of the Rings also called Aragorn or Strider, chosen as a reference to the fossil animal’s lengthy legs.

Most tanystropheid fossils are present in Center to Late Triassic rocks of Europe, Asia, and North America, and sometimes in marine sediments. The presence of Elessaurus in continental deposits of Early Triassic South America means that the origins of this group could lie within the southern continents, and that their ancestors could have lived on land earlier than later species tailored to aquatic life. A clearer view of the group’s origins will depend on extra uncommon fossils from this early time of their evolution.

Reference: “A brand new archosauromorph from South America gives insights on the early diversification of tanystropheids” by Tiane M. De-Oliveira, Felipe L. Pinheiro, Átila Augusto Inventory Da-Rosa, Sérgio Dias-Da-Silva and Leonardo Kerber, 8 April 2020, PLoS ONE.
DOI: 10.1371/journal.pone.0230890

Funding: This examine was financed by the Coordenação de Aperfeiçoamento de Pessoal de Nível Superior – Brasil (CAPES) – Finance Code 001. Fundação de Amparo à Pesquisa do Estado do Rio Grande do Sul (FAPERGS 16/2551-0000271-1 to FLP; 17/2551-0000816-2 to LK) and Conselho Nacional de Desenvolvimento Científico e Tecnológico (CNPq 407969/2016-0; 305758/2017-9 to FLP; 313494/2018-5 to AASR; 306352/2016-8 to SDS; 422568/2018-0; 309414/2019-9 to LK).

Competing Pursuits: The authors have declared that no competing pursuits exist.

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