Maho, Gee and Reisz 2019
introduce us to a new Early Permian skull-only specimens (OMNH 73208, OMNH 73209 and OMNH 73500; Figs. 1, 2) they attribute to a new species of an old genus, Mesenosaurus efremovi.
The original art in Maho et al. 2019
(Fig. 1) was used to create this reconstruction (Fig. 2) using DGS techniques, using the best bones from the left and right to make this reconstruction. There are no surprises here.
After testing OMNH 73209
(Figs. 1, 2) in the large reptile tree (LRT, 1592 taxa, subset Fig. 4) this specimen nests a node away from three other Mesenosaurus specimens. So, distinct from Maho et al. 2019 (Fig 3), this specimen is not congeneric with other Mesenosaurus in the LRT (Fig. 4).
Further complicating matters,
Maho et al. contend that Mesenosaurus is a varanopid (Fig. 3). This is an outmoded traditional hypothesis invalidated in 2014 by the LRT. Mesenosaurus and kin are Protodiapsids, nesting between the basalmost synapsid, Vaughnictis and archosauromorphs with a diapsid skull architecture, labeled Diapsida in the LRT.
As we learned earlier in 2011
lepidosauriformes also developed a diapsid skull architecture by convergence, here labeled Lepidosauriformes. That news has not reached the three authors, Maho, Gee and Reisz, nor have they tested a sufficient number of pertinent taxa to recover that basal dichotomy, known for the last eight years.
According to the LRT
the various Mesenosaurus specimens (Fig. 5) demonstrate a wider variety of skull shapes than do many congeneric taxa.
Varanopids have a smaller clade membership
than the authors suppose when more taxa are tested. All they have to do is add taxa to see their varanopid clade become a dichotomy (Fig. 6) leading to mammals on one line and dinosaurs and giant sea reptiles on the other. All this was overlooked by the PhDs.
Maho S, Gee BM, Reisz RR 2019. A new varanopid synapsid from the early Permian of Oklahoma and the evolutionary stasis in this clade. R. Soc. open sci. 6: 191297. http://dx.doi.org/10.1098/rsos.191297