There’s a new Langobardisaurus (Figs. 1-3) with hollow limb bones courtesy of Saller, Renesto & Dalla Vecchia (2013). Langobardisaurus, with all of its oddities and wonders deservers a bit more PR. So, here ’tis.
Figure 1. The new Langobardisaurus. P10121. A little hard to see, but the neck curves up, left, down and behind the body, with the head emerging on the right. The hollow bones are crushed revealing their interiors. No soft tissue is preserved along with the fossil leaves shown here.
Here’s the abstract:
“A new specimen of the small protorosaurian reptile Langobardisaurus pandolfii is described. It was collected from the Seefeld Formation, of Late Triassic (Norian) age, in the Innsbruck area (Austria) and represents the first occurrence of Langobardisaurus outside Italy. Although preserved mostly as an impression, the find is significant
because it extends the palaeogeographic range of the genus and it is the second specimen known to date with the skull fully exposed. The preserved portions of the limb elements show that the bones are hollow, with a layer of compacta and without any trace of spongiosa. Reappraisal of all the specimens assigned to the genus Langobardisaurus reveals no significant differences between L. pandolfii and L. tonelloi, allowing to consider the latter as a junior synonym of the former.”
Not a protorosaur. Not an archosauromorph.
Saller, Renesto and Dalla Vecchia (2013) labeled Langobardisaurus a “small archosauromorph” basing this on conventional thinking linking Langobardisaurus to protorosaurs. We talked about this mistake earlier. The large reptile tree nests Langobardisaurus and its sisters with tritosaur lizards, descended from a sister to Huehuecuetzpalli and Lacertulus. Sister taxa in the large reptile tree include Cosesaurus, Tanystropheus, Tanytrachelos and Macrocnemus. This clade includes several other long-necked bipeds with sprawling hind limbs (Renesto, Dalla Vecchia and Peters 2002). So Langobardisaurus was an occasional biped, lizard-style.
Saller, Renesto and Dalla Vecchia (2013) report, “All specimens of Langobardisaurus were found in a dark limestone and dolostone that formed in relatively small and deep marine basins surrounded by shallow-water carbonate platforms.” Langobardisaurs appear to be terrestrial reptiles, so their bodies appear to have been swept into these basins from river floods along with the plant debris seen in the fossil.
Figure 2. The skull of the new Langobardisaurus in situ, above, and reconstructed below, using the DGS technique. If there was no antorbital fenestra the rostrum was at least very weak and this taxon immediately preceded a taxon known to have an antorbital fenestra, Cosesaurus. The left maxilla itself was broken into several pieces. The skull looks like the other Langobardisaurus skulls, so is likely conspecific. The dentary is tipped with a tooth-like structure. Note the very tall coronoid process.
Langobardisaurus (Fig. 2) appears to have had an antorbital fenestra as it now appears in two specimens (Fig. 4) and in Pteromimus (Atanassov 2001), another langobardisaur with an antorbital fenestra.
The premaxilla is reported as edentulous with toothlike-projections erupting from it. Certainly this morphology was distinct and provided a mechanism for prey (insect) acquisition. Perhaps these were teeth fused to the jaws in the manner of sphenodontid teeth.
Most maxillary teeth had two or three cusps, but the posterior-most maxillary and dentary teeth were much longer than the others and bore many tiny cusps. These would have acted like linear molars.
The coronoid process was tall and robust, unlike other tritosaur lizards. No stomach contents tell us what Langobardisaurus ate. But the teeth and coronoid process tell us it was probably crunchy, requiring a certain amount of oral processing.
The pectoral girdle
Earlier we talked about the coracoid and strap-like scapula of Langobardisaurus, relabeled from earlier interpretations. Here (Fig. 3) those identifications are confirmed with similar morphologies and placements.
Figure 3. The pectoral girdle of the new Langobardisaurus highlighted in colors. These elements correspond to those of an earlier Langobardisaurus with an angled coronoid and a strap-like scapula.
The hollow limb bones of Langobardisaurus are shared with members of the Fenestrasauria, including pterosaurs. So are the elongated nares, the large orbits, the elongated pedal 5.1 and the advancement of the sternum toward the clavicles.
Figure 4. Langobardisaurus tonelloi. The incomplete tail of this specimen was proabably longer based on other specimens. The the cosesaurid-type pectoral girdle.
As always, I encourage readers to see specimens, make observations and come to your own conclusions. Test. Test. And test again.
Evidence and support in the form of nexus, pdf and jpeg files will be sent to all who request additional data.
Atanassov M 2001. Two new archosauromorphs from the Late Triassic of Texas. – Journal of Vertebrate Paleontology Abstracts 21(3): 30A.
Atanassov M 2002. Two new archosauromorphs from the Late Triassic of Texas. Dissertation.online abstract
Muscio G 1997. Preliminary note on a specimen of Prolacertiformes (Reptilia) from the Norian (Late Triassic) of Preone (Udine, north-eastern Italy). Gortania – Atti del Museo Friulano di Storia Naturale 18:33-40
Renesto S 1994. A new prolacertiform reptile from the Late Triassic of Northern Italy. Rivista di Paleontologia e Stratigrafia 100(2): 285-306.
Renesto S and Dalla Vecchia FM 2000. The unusual dentition and feeding habits of the Prolacertiform reptile Langobardisaurus (Late Triassic, Northern Italy). Journal of Vertebrate Paleontology 20: 3. 622-627.
Renesto S and Dalla Vecchia FM 2007. A revision of Langobardisaurus rossii Bizzarini and Muscio, 1995 from the Late Triassic of Friuli (Italy)*. Rivista di Paleontologia e Stratigrafia 113(2): 191-201. online pdf
Renesto S, Dalla Vecchia FM and Peters D 2002. Morphological evidence for bipedalism in the Late Triassic Prolacertiform reptile Langobardisaurus. Senckembergiana Lethaea 82(1): 95-106.
Saller F, Renesto S and Dalla Vecchia FM 2013. First record of Langobardisaurus (Diapsida, Protorosauria) from the Norian (Late Triassic) of Austria, and a revision of the genus. Neues Jahrbuch für Geologie und Paläontologie – Abhandlungen 268(1): 83-95
Wild R 1980. Tanystropheus (Reptilia: Squamata) and its importance for stratigraphy. Mémoires de la Société Géologique de France, N.S. 139:201–206.