SVP abstracts 22: Weigeltisaurus reexamined

Pritchard, Sues, Reisz and Scott 2020
promise to bring us a look at the ‘osteology and phylogenetic affinities of the early gliding reptile Weigeltisaurus jaekeli” (Fig. 1).

Unfortunately,
no phylogenetic analysis, or any hint thereof, is to be found in the abstract.

We looked at Weigeltisaurus earlier
here when the skull (Fig. 1) was described by Bulanov and Sennikov 2015.

Figure 1. Weigeltisaurus skull reconstructed by Bulanov and Sennikov (gray scale), and using DGS techniques (color). They did not attempt to trace the occiput, nor did they understand that the posterior crest is the supratemporal, displaced in situ and that the main portion is a very large squamosal that sweeps up. This skull is nearly identical to that of sister taxa, with the exception of the extended posterior elements, probably for secondary sexual selection. The same cannot be said of the Bulanov and Sennikov reconstruction which is, unfortunately, unique as is.

Figure 1. Weigeltisaurus skull reconstructed by Bulanov and Sennikov (gray scale), and using DGS techniques (color). They did not attempt to trace the occiput, nor did they understand that the posterior crest is the supratemporal, displaced in situ and that the main portion is a very large squamosal that sweeps up. This skull is nearly identical to that of sister taxa, with the exception of the extended posterior elements, probably for secondary sexual selection. The same cannot be said of the Bulanov and Sennikov reconstruction which is, unfortunately, unique as is.

Weigeltisaurus is a relative of Coelurosauravus 
(Fig. 2) and other pseudo-rib gliders. The ribs are dermal in nature, extending from the tips of the dorsal and lumbar ribs, whether few or many.

The Triassic kuehneosaur gliders and their non-gliding precursors.

Figure 2. Click to enlarge. The Triassic kuehneosaur gliders and their non-gliding precursors. Note the icarosaurs are not rib gliders. Their actual ribs are fused to mimic transverse processes as demonstrated around the neck and anterior torso.

From the Pritchard et al. 2020 abstract:
“Weigeltisauridae is a clade of small-bodied Permian diapsids that represent the oldest known vertebrates with skeletal features for gliding. It is characterized by a cranium with a posterior bony casque, prominent horns on the temporal arches, and a series of elongate bony spars projecting from the ventrolateral surface on both sides of the trunk. Definitive specimens are known from upper Permian of Germany, Russia, and Madagascar, but the quality of their preservation previously limited understanding of the skeletal structure and phylogenetic affinities of these reptiles.”

All you have to do is add taxa (= minimize taxon exclusion) and let the software determine where these Permian pseudo-rib gliding lepidosauriforms nest. In the large reptile tree (LRT, 1752+ taxa; subset Fig. 3) these arboreal gliders nest at the base of the lepidosauriformes. (The Diapsida is now limited to just archosauromorphs with a diapsid-skull morphology, by convergence with lepidosauriformes). Only here, in the LRT, among all prior pertinent cladograms, is the clade of pseudo-rib gliders surrounded by arboreal taxa with weigeltosaurs nesting with kuehneosaurs. Usually they nest apart and too often close to marine taxa.

Figure 2. Derived lepidosauriformes. The clade Pseudoribia includes the pseudo-rib gliders

Figure 2. Derived lepidosauriformes. The clade Pseudoribia includes the pseudo-rib gliders

The Pritchard, Sues, Reisz and Scott abstract continues:
“Here, we present a revised account based on a nearly complete skeleton of Weigeltisaurus jaekeli from the Kupferschiefer of central Germany and a revised phylogenetic analysis of early Diapsida and early Sauria.”

That analysis must have been part of the oral presentation. There is no hint of it here. Sauria is an invalid clade. Diaspsida is restricted to the Archosauromorpha in the LRT.

“The specimen preserves all elements of the skeleton, save for the braincase, palate, some dorsal vertebrae, the carpus, and the tarsus. The well-preserved teeth in the maxilla are not conical but leaf-shaped, resembling those in the middle portion of the maxillae of the Russian weigeltisaurid Rautiania. The parietals bear rows of dorsolaterally oriented horns similar to those on the squamosals. The quadrate is a dorsoventrally short element with a tapering dorsal margin that lacks a cephalic condyle. The squamosal appears to cover the quadrate both laterally and posterodorsally. The manual and pedal phalanges are elongate and slender, similar to those of extant arboreal squamates. The unguals have very prominent flexor tubercles. A patagium was supported by elongate, slender bony rods. They are situated superficial to the preserved dorsal ribs and gastralia, corroborating the hypothesis that these structures represent dermal ossifications independent of and greater in number than the bones of the dorsal axial skeleton.”

Excellent description. But that was provided earlier (Bulanov and Sennikov 2015).

Phylogenetic conclusions? 
I guess we’ll have to wait for the paper.


References
Bulanov VV and Sennikov AG 2015. Substantiation of validity of the Late Permian genus Weigeltisaurus Kuhn, 1939 (Reptilia, Weigeltisauridae) Paleontological Journal 49 (10):1101–1111.
Pritchard A, Sues HD, Reisz R and Scott D 2020. Osteology and phylogenetic affinities of the early gliding reptile Weigeltisaurus jaekeli. SVP abstracts.

https://pterosaurheresies.wordpress.com/2011/09/26/icarosaurus-kuehneosaurus-and-the-so-called-rib-gliders/

https://pterosaurheresies.wordpress.com/2015/12/17/weigeltisaurus-skull-reconstructions/

Prior citations
Colbert, Edwin H. (1966). A gliding reptile from the Triassic of New Jersey. American Museum Novitates 2246: 1–23. online pdf
Evans SE 1982. Gliding reptiles of the Late Permian. Zoological Journal of the Linnean Society, 76:97–123.
Evans SE and Haubold H 1987. 
A review of the Upper Permian genera  CoelurosauravusWeigeltisaurus and Gracilisaurus (Reptilia: Diapsida). Zool J Linn Soc, 90:275–303.
Fraser NC, Olsen PE, Dooley AC Jr and Ryan TR 2007. 
A new gliding tetrapod (Diapsida: ?Archosauromorpha) from the Upper Triassic (Carnian) of Virginia. Journal of Vertebrate Paleontology 27 (2): 261–265. doi:10.1671/0272-4634(2007)27[261:ANGTDA]2.0.CO;2.
Frey E, Sues H-D and Munk W 1997. 
Gliding Mechanism in the Late Permian Reptile Coelurosauravus. Science Vol. 275. no. 5305, pp. 1450 – 1452
DOI: 10.1126/science.275.5305.1450
Li P-P, Gao K-Q, Hou L-H and Xu X. 2007. A gliding lizard from the Early Cretaceous of China. PNAS 104(13): 5507-5509. doi: 10.1073/pnas.0609552104 online pdf
Modesto SP and Reisz RR 2003. An enigmatic new diapsid reptile from the Upper Permian of Eastern Europe. Journal of Vertebrate Paleontology 22 (4): 851-855.
Modesto SP and Reisz RR 2011. The neodiapsid Lanthanolania ivakhnenkoi from the Middle Permian of Russia, and the initial diversification of diapsid reptiles. SVPCA abstract.
Robinson PL 1962. Gliding lizards from the Upper Keuper of Great Britain. Proceedings of the Geological Society London 1601:137–146.
Stein K, Palmer C, Gill PG and Benton MJ 2008. The aerodynamics of the British Late Triassic Kuehneosauridae. Palaeontology, 51(4): 967-981. DOI: 10.1111/j.1475-4983.2008.00783.x
Piveteau J 1926. Paleontologie de Madagascar, XIII. Amphibiens et reptiles permiens: Annales de Paleontologie, v. 15, p. 53-128.

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