‘Proterosuchia’: The Origin and Early History of Archosauriformes
Martín D. Ezcurra, Richard J. Butler, David J. Gower, 2013. "‘Proterosuchia’: The Origin and Early History of Archosauriformes", Anatomy, Phylogeny and Palaeobiology of Early Archosaurs and their Kin, S. J. Nesbitt, J. B. Desojo, R. B. Irmis
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The earliest history of Archosauriformes is mainly represented by members of Proterosuchidae and Erythrosuchidae, which are known worldwide from latest Permian to Middle Triassic beds. These two groups were historically combined within ‘Proterosuchia’, with approximately 30 nominal species. Two morphotypes have been recognized among proterosuchians: proterosuchids with a generally more sprawling gait and elongated and low skulls with an overhanging premaxilla, and the more heavily built erythrosuchids, with a probably less sprawling gait and large, presumably hypercarnivorous, skulls. The systematics of ‘Proterosuchia’ was relatively chaotic throughout most of the twentieth century, but currently there exists consensus regarding the non-monophyly of proterosuchians and their phylogenetic position outside all other archosauriforms. In contrast, the delimitation and taxonomic content of Proterosuchidae and Erythrosuchidae remain unstable. Few studies of proterosuchian palaeobiology have been carried out. Current lines of evidence favour a predominantly terrestrial lifestyle for proterosuchians. Limb bone histology indicates rapid continuous growth rates in Proterosuchus and Erythrosuchus before reaching sexual maturity. A better knowledge of proterosuchian anatomy, systematics, evolution and ecology is important for advancing understanding of the origin and early radiation of Archosauriformes and the patterns of biotic recovery following the Permo-Triassic mass extinction event. There remains much research to be carried out in proterosuchian palaeobiology.
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Archosaurs, an important reptile group that includes today’s crocodiles and birds, arose during the Triassic in the aftermath of the greatest mass extinction of all time. In the last 20 years, our understanding of the early evolution of the group has improved substantially with the discovery of new fossils and species of early archosaurs and their closest relatives, a better understanding of the relationships of these animals, and new insights into their palaeobiology. In order to synthesize these new data, researchers of early archosaurs from around the world met at the first symposium of early archosaur evolution at the IV Congreso Latinoamericano de Paleontología de Vertebrados (September 2011) in San Juan, Argentina. This symposium facilitated collaboration and strove to paint a better understanding of these extraordinary animals. The resultant body of work is a state-of-the-art examination of early archosaur groups and their close relatives including historical, anatomical, biogeographical, evolutionary and palaeobiological data. This contribution furthers our knowledge of the anatomy, relationships, and palaeobiology of species-level taxa as well as more global patterns of archosaur evolution during the Triassic.