You heard it here first: Orovenator had diapsid AND varanopid traits—for good reason!

This is a YouTube video of a
talk given by postgraduate David Ford recorded at The 65th Symposium on Vertebrate Palaeontology and Comparative Anatomy, University of Birmingham. His incredibly detailed  observations found diapsid traits AND varanopid traits, which was cause for consternation. Click to view.

Ford used µCT data
to recover in Ororvenator what the large reptile tree (LRT, 1181 taxa) was able to recover from published drawings. Ford nested Orovenator and Synapsida within Diapsida. Although heretical, that’s not the correct solution when you add more pertinent taxa.

By contrast, in the LRT
basal synapsids split at their genesis between Synapsida and Prodiapsida following Vaughnictis, another late-surviving taxon. Ford was unaware of that split at the time. In the LRT, late-surviving early Permian Orovenator was derived from basal synapsids (varanopids) AND ancestral to basal diapsids like Petrolacosaurus in the Late Carboniferous.

We looked at Orovenator relationships earlier
here in 2014 and here in 2017. Key to testing any taxonomic relationships is appropriate taxon inclusion. Let’s hope Ford has expanded his taxon inclusion set appropriately when the paper comes out. He’s got a good handle on the details, but the big picture evidently was not in his ken due to the exclusion of pertinent taxa.

Figure 2. The Prodiapsida now include the holotypes of Ascendonanus and Anningia.

Figure 2. The Prodiapsida now include the holotypes of Ascendonanus and Anningia.


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