What is Brouffia? A short series – part 1

Today we’re going to start a short series of Brouffia, which may be either a basal reptile or a non-reptile closer to Gephyrostegus, only much smaller, depending on which professional tracing is more correct (Fig. 1).


Figure 1. What is Brouffia? Here we see two professional tracings made by teams of paleontologists both of whom had this specimen under the microscope. Brough and Brough (1967) interpreted the specimen with pre-reptile traits. The Carroll and Baird (1972) had the benefit of seeing the prior interpretation and saw things differently. Yes the scale bars don’t match. I’ll try to get to the bottom of that problem, too. 

Earlier I was under the impression that the Brough and Brough (1967) part and counterpart specimen belonged to Gephyrostegus, as they considered it. Then I discovered that this specimen is one and the same with Brouffia, which Carroll and Baird (1972) considered to be an early reptile. In any case, I made a mistake that will be rectified shortly.

Despite the Late Carboniferous age of Brouffia, the fine line between reptile and non-reptile is currently best represented right here as discussed earlier.

The current large reptile tree lists this specimen as two taxa, separated earlier. But with new data (not shown publicly yet) Brouffia moved to the base of the new Archosauromorpha, prompting the head slap and opening up this new study.

The way this turns out will require minor changes to the current large reptile tree at its base. At this point, late Sunday night, I don’t know how this is all going to turn out. Come along for the ride.

At this point I have only these drawings to use as data. It just goes to show that a first-hand inspection with a microscope is not always the panacea and trump card that others have claimed. If anyone has a photo of the specimen, that might help explain the differences.

As always, I encourage readers to see specimens, make observations and come to your own conclusions. Test. Test. And test again.

Evidence and support in the form of nexus, pdf and jpeg files will be sent to all who request additional data.

Brough MC and Brough J 1967. The Genus Gephyrostegus. Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society of London. Series B, Biological Sciences 252 (776): 147–165. doi:10.1098/rstb.1967.0006
Carroll RL and Baird D 1972. Carboniferous Stem-Reptiles of the Family Romeriidae. Bulletin of the Museum of Comparative Zoology 143(5):321-363. biodiversitylibrary

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