SVP abstracts – Drepanosaurs are not ‘highly enigmatic’

Britt et al. 2019 bring us a new look
at a 3D drepanosaur.

From the abstract:
“With a bird-like head, mole-like arms, and a “claw” at the end of the tail, derived drepanosaurs (lizard-sized neodiapsids) are highly enigmatic.” 

Not so. The large reptile tree (LRT, 1594 taxa, subset Fig. 2) documents exactly what they are. Paleontologists should stop using the word ‘enigmatic’ when what they really are saying is ‘we haven’t put in the effort.’ And that means the very little effort needed to click on www.ReptileEvolution.com where all candidates for drepanosaur ancestry are considered and tested.

“Multiple 3D skeletons of a new drepanosaur taxon from Utah provides insights into this clade, previously known from flattened skeletons and isolated 3D elements.”

Always good to have, but 2D specimens are still diagnostic, like a photo, rather than a sculpture. You don’t need as many characters as possible to make a taxonomic determination. What you need is a surfeit of taxa.

Figure 3. Drepanosaurs and their ancestor sisters, Jesairosaurus and Palaegama to scale.

Figure 1. Drepanosaurs and their ancestor sisters, Jesairosaurus and Palaegama to scale. Drepanosaurs nest at the base of the Lepidoauria. Pink bone is a sesamoid, not an ulna.

The rest of the abstract
describes the drepanosaur as a scratch-digger with an elongate naris and a hook tail capable of striking a tripod pose. They do not consider the ancestry or clade to which drepanosaurs belong, but consider them common and worldwide in distribution during the Late Triassic.

Figure 1. Subset of the LRT focusing on the Lepidosauria. Now the drepanosaur clade lumps with the rhynchocephalians in the crown group. Extant lepidosaurs are in gray.

Figure 1. Subset of the LRT focusing on the Lepidosauria. Now the drepanosaur clade lumps with the rhynchocephalians in the crown group. Extant lepidosaurs are in gray.

The title of this abstract 
may be the longest one I have ever read. See below.


References
Britt B et al. 2019. Still stranger things: MicroCT imaging of 3D drepanosaur skulls and skeletons (Saints & Sinners quarrry, Late Triassic, Eolian/Interdunal nugget formation) reveals bizarre and novel morphologies including a beak combined with transversely wide teeth, sauropod-like pneumatic dorsal vertebrae, a chevron that articulates with the pelvis and tripodal adaptations. Journal of Vertebrate Paleontology abstracts.

6 thoughts on “SVP abstracts – Drepanosaurs are not ‘highly enigmatic’

  1. More anteater or pangolin-like than sloth-like, I think. The huge claws in drepanosaurus at least would be handy for tearing into rotten logs on the ground as well. Lots of insects in that medium, including [probably] the earliest termites or their wood-roach forebears.

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