A new stereospondyl from the German Middle Triassic, and the origin of the Metoposauridae
Recent finds of well-preserved temnospondyl skeletons from the Lower Keuper (Ladinian, Middle Triassic) in southern Germany are assigned to a new genus and species, Callistomordax kugleri. This taxon is characterized by the following autapomorphies: (1) wide unpaired frontal; (2) vomerine fangs greatly enlarged to occupy entire width of element; (3) intercentra elongated and massive, anterior face being convex; (4) humerus semilunar with enlarged deltopectoral crest; (5) cleithrum strongly curved and bow-shaped; (6) trunk extremely elongated to reach three times the length of the skull. Callistomordax shares with the Metoposauridae the pattern of dermal ornamentation, the proportion of both posterior skull table and snout, the position of the lacrimal, the morphology of the basicranial region, and the structure of the clavicle and interclavicle. Phylogenetic analysis suggests Callistomordax to be the sister taxon of the Metoposauridae, nested within a grade formed by various trematosaurian taxa. In this assemblage, Lyrocephaliscus and a clade formed by Almasaurus, Rileymillerus, Callistomordax, and the Metoposauridae are sister taxa. In all variants of the cladistic analysis, Callistomordax and the Metoposauridae form immediate sister groups. According to the present findings, neither plagiosaurids nor brachyopoids and rhytidosteids are closely related to this ‘trematosaurian’ monophylum, although these taxa share a range of homoplasies. © 2008 The Linnean Society of London, Zoological Journal of the Linnean Society, 2008, 152, 79–113.
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