A new short-faced archosauriform from the Upper Triassic Placerias/Downs' quarry complex, Arizona, USA, expands the morphological diversity of the Triassic archosauriform radiation

Abstract

The Placerias/Downs' Quarry complex in eastern Arizona, USA, is the most diverse Upper Triassic vertebrate locality known. We report a new short-faced archosauriform, Syntomiprosopus sucherorum gen. et sp. nov., represented by four incomplete mandibles, that expands that diversity with a morphology unique among Late Triassic archosauriforms. The most distinctive feature of Syntomiprosopus gen. nov. is its anteroposteriorly short, robust mandible with 3-4 anterior, a larger caniniform, and 1-3 "postcanine" alveoli. The size and shape of the alveoli and the preserved tips of replacement teeth preclude assignment to any taxon known only from teeth. Additional autapomorphies of S. sucherorum gen. et sp. nov. include a large fossa associated with the mandibular fenestra, an interdigitating suture of the surangular with the dentary, fine texture ornamenting the medial surface of the splenial, and a surangular ridge that completes a 90 degrees arc. The external surfaces of the mandibles bear shallow, densely packed, irregular, fine pits and narrow, arcuate grooves. This combination of character states allows an archosauriform assignment; however, an associated and similarly sized braincase indicates that Syntomiprosopus n. gen. may represent previously unsampled disparity in early-diverging crocodylomorphs. The Placerias Quarry is Adamanian (Norian, maximum depositional age similar to 219 Ma), and this specimen appears to be an early example of shortening of the skull, which occurs later in diverse archosaur lineages, including the Late Cretaceous crocodyliform Simosuchus. This is another case where Triassic archosauriforms occupied morphospace converged upon by other archosaurs later in the Mesozoic and further demonstrates that even well-sampled localities can yield new taxa.

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Keywords
Crocodylomorpha, Convergent evolution, Norian, Jaw, Diversity, Archosauriformes
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