Revueltosaurus: closer to Aetosaurus? or to Fugusuchus?

This post was updated December 8, 2014 with a new nesting of Revueltosaurus with Fugusuchus as a basal erythrosuchid. 

Yesterday we saw a higher resolution Revueltosaurus skull in lateral view and we noted a disagreement in the phylogenetic nesting of this Late Triassic oddball.

According to Nesbitt (2011)…
Nesbitt (2011) nested the odd herbivorous Triassic archosauriform, Revueltosaurus, at the base of the aetosaurs, including Aetosaurus and Stagonolepis. Outgroups include an unresolved clade including Gracilisuchus, Turfanosuchus and Ticinosuchus. Outgroups to this clade include Riojasuchus and Ornithosuchus (= Ornithosuchidae) at the base of the “Pseudosuchia“. Wiki follows Nesbitt (2011).

According to Parker (2014?)…
William Parker, the discoverer of the twelve-specimen nest of Revueltosaurus skeletons, will soon publish a large monograph on this genus. His analysis will also nest Revueltosaurus with aetosaurs. He’s very sure of that.

Figure 1. Revueltosaurus compared to its big sister, Fugusuchus, a basal erythrosuchid.

Figure 1. Revueltosaurus compared to its big sister, Fugusuchus, a basal erythrosuchid.

According to the large reptile tree…
On the other hand, the large reptile tree does not recover the Nesbitt tree topology, but finds Revueltosaurus nests with Fugusuchus (Fig. 1) at the base of the Erythrosuchidae. To move Revueltosaurus to the Aetosauridae requires an additional 35 steps. t.

Like Aetosaurs:
Revueltosaurus is a heavily armored quadruped and a plant eater (judging by its teeth). I’m told by Parker the following traits are identical in Revueltosaurus and aetosaurs: scapula/coracoid, humerus, squamosal and armor design. You can see (Fig. 1) that despite being twice the size, Revueltosaurus has more gracile girdles and limbs and larger hands and feet than Aetosaurus. And the skull has a distinctly different shape in nearly all regards, including the squamosal. Even so…

An herbivorous rauisuchid, with several aetosaur and turtle-like traits.
On Revueltosaurus, the naris is rather unique. The lateral processes of the premaxilla have become more robust, reducing the size of the naris and moving them to an anterior position.  Revueltosaurus shares these traits with Fugusuchus.

Figure 2. Revueltosaurus pelves compared to Aetosaurus and Postosuchus. Red arrows point to limit of femoral head. Blue arrows point to acetabular shelf that roofs over the femur in rauisuchids.

Figure 2. Revueltosaurus pelves compared to Aetosaurus and Postosuchus. Red arrows point to limit of femoral head. Blue arrows point to acetabular shelf that roofs over the femur in rauisuchids. Revueltosaurus is a small slow quadrupedal plant eater, so it doesn’t have the long booted pelvis of Postosuchus. But note the similarity of the broad ischium to Aetosaurus!  Wm. Parker tells me, “It’s the plesiomorphic archosauriform condition with the very short anterior process. Lacks the deep supracetabular buttress found in rauisuchids. It actually looks like a juvenile aetosaur and it is difficult to tell them apart.” Schoch reports the aetosaur oblique posterior ridge is unlike the supraacetabular ‘boss’ of rauisuchids.

The pelvis should settle the argument
But it doesn’t. The pelvis of Revueltosaurus appears to bear a acetabular boss beneath which the femur articulates and supports. In aetosaurs the pelvis has a simpler shape without the boss. In aetosaurs the pelvis is wider at the top, which provides a broad platform for the armor, and angles inward ventrally. We don’t have a pelvis and hind limb for Fugusuchus, but Euparkeria is not far off. So is Gargainia. Both have similar elements.Here again, the different nesting sites appear to be based on employing macro-traits or micro-traits. This is a problem I have no solution for at present.

Figure 2. Revueltosaurus

Figure 2. Revueltosaurus

 

References
Hunt AP 1989. A new ornithischian dinosaur from the Bull Canyon Formation (Upper Triassic) of east-central New Mexico. In Lucas, S. G. and A. P. Hunt (Eds.), Dawn of the age of dinosaurs in the American Southwest 355–358.
Nesbitt SJ 2011. The early evolution of archosaurs: relationships and the origin of major clades. Bulletin of the American Museum of Natural History 352: 292 pp.
Parker WG., et al. 2005
. The Pseudosuchian Revueltosaurus callenderi and its implications for the diversity of early ornithischian dinosaurs. In Proceedings of the Royal Society London B 272(1566):963–969.

wiki/Revueltosaurus

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