Scutosaurus modeled by computer

Romano et al. 2021 created
a digital version of the iconic pareiasaur, Scutosaurus (Fig. 1).

Figure 1. Scutosaurus model created by Romano et al. 2021. Note the nearly vertical ribs of this pareiasaur, distinct from the more lateral ribs of Bunostegos and its turtle descendants. Note how the hind limbs appear erect in lateral view and sprawling in posterior view.

From the abstract:
“In this contribution we provide a possible in vivo reconstruction of the largest individual of the species Scutosaurus karpinskii and a volumetric body mass estimate for the taxon, considering that body size is one of the most important biological aspects of organisms. The body mass of Scutosaurus was calculated using a 3D photogrammetric model of the complete mounted skeleton PIN 2005/1537 from the Sokolki locality, Arkhangelsk Region, Russia, on exhibit at the Borissiak Paleontological Institute, Russian Academy of Sciences (Moscow).”

Romano et al. wrote:
“Pareiasaurs are classified as members of the clade Parareptilia, a group of basal amniotes with no living representatives.”

Figure 1. Carbonodraco enters the LRT alongside another recent addition, Kudnu, at the base of the pareiasaurs + turtles.
Figure 1. Carbonodraco enters the LRT alongside another recent addition, Kudnu, at the base of the pareiasaurs + turtles.Figure 1. Carbonodraco enters the LRT alongside another recent addition, Kudnu, at the base of the pareiasaurs + turtles.

Unfortunately
the large reptile tree (LRT, 1938+ taxa) does not recover the clade Parareptilia. In the LRT pareiasaurs arose from Stephanospondylus, Carbanodraco and Kudnu, taxa not mentioned in Romano et al. A knobby-skulled Late Permian Sahara pareiasaur, Bunostegos, is the closest pareiasaur to two clade of turtles, hard shell and soft shell.

None of this affects the results of the Romano et al. study,
but it does falsifiy certain traditional, yet mythological phylogenetic statements reported by the team. If this is what they are teaching at universities around the world, you might want to rethink how you spend your tuition dollars.

References

Romano M, Manucci F, Rubidge B and Van den Brandt MJ 2021. Volumetric Body Mass Estimate and in vivo Reconstruction of the Russian Pareiasaur Scutosaurus karpinskii.
Front. Ecol. Evol. 9:692035. doi: 10.3389/fevo.2021.692035

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