Tridentinosaurus antiquus: a glider ancestor, not a protorosaur

I had never heard of this one before. 
Evidently this Early Permian reptile is famous for being fossilized between volcanic layers and for preserving more skin than bone. Using DGS I was able to tease out some of the bone (Fig. 1) and nest Tridentinosaurus not with the protorosaurs, as Leonardi (1959) proposed, but with basal lepidosauriforms. Tridentinosaurus nests in the large reptile tree as an Early Permian descendant of the late-surviving Palaegama and an ancestor to the Late Permian ‘rib’ glider, Coelurosauravus and the Late Triassic ‘rib’ glider, Icarosaurus along with other glider clade members.

Figure 1. Tridentinosaurus at 26.5 cm long is an Early Permian ancestor to Late Permian Coelurosauravus and Late Triassic Icarosaurus.

Figure 1. Tridentinosaurus at 26.5 cm long is an Early Permian ancestor to Late Permian Coelurosauravus and Late Triassic Icarosaurus. Here two images taken in different light conditions were superimposed, then traced. An arboreal lifestyle is suspected here, based on the long limbs and toes.

At the base of the glider clade,
Tridentinosaurus was also a sister to Jesairosaurus and the drepanosaurs. The nesting was made after the tracing. Not many traits were gleaned from the skull. More were gleaned from the hands and feet. It helps to have 693 other taxa to test it against. With such a generalized body, this specimen could have nested in several places at first glance.

Tridentinosaurus antiquus (Early Permian, Dal Piaz 1932, Leonardi 1959, 26.5cm long; Museum of Paleontology of the University of Padua 26567). Ronchi et al. described the specimen as “a beautiful but biochronologically useless specimen of which only the out−line of the soft tissues is well preserved.” The volcanic sediments in Sardinia occur in Cisuralian / Sakmarian deposits 291 million years old.

Although known for more than 50 years, 
and with quite a story to tell, this genus was not famous enough to merit its own Wikipedia page when I wrote this. Based on phylogenetic bracketing, the tail may have been twice as long originally.

Most prior workers do not nest 
Coelurosauravus and kin with Kuehneosaurus and kin (including Xianglong from the Cretaceous. Here they do nest together and Tridentinosaurus provides clues to the clade’s arboreal origin. Apparently this is a novel hypothesis, a by-product of having so many (694) taxa in the large reptile tree (subset Fig. 2).

Figure 2. Subset of the large reptile tree showing the nesting of Tridentinosaurus at the base of the gliders, close to the drepanosaurs.

Figure 2. Subset of the large reptile tree showing the nesting of Tridentinosaurus at the base of the gliders, close to the drepanosaurs.

References
Dal Piaz Gb. 1932 (1931). Scoperta degli avanzi di un rettile (lacertide) nei tufi compresi entro i porfidi quarziferi permiani del Trentino. Atti Soc. Ital. Progr. Scienze, XX Riunione, v. 2, pp. 280-281. [The discovery of the remains of a reptile (lacertide) in tuffs including within the Permian quartz porphyry of Trentino.]
Leonardi P 1959. Tridentinosaurus antiquus Gb. Dal Piaz, rettile protorosauro permiano del Trentino orientale. Memorie di Scienze Geologiche 21: 3–15.
Ronchi, A., Sacchi, E., Romano, M., and Nicosia, U. 2011. A huge caseid pelycosaur from north−western Sardinia and its bearing on European Permian stratigraphy and palaeobiogeography. Acta Palaeontologica Polonica 56 (4): 723–738.

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