Morphology and diversity of the mandibular symphysis of archosauriforms
Casey M. Holliday, Sterling J. Nesbitt, 2013. "Morphology and diversity of the mandibular symphysis of archosauriforms", Anatomy, Phylogeny and Palaeobiology of Early Archosaurs and their Kin, S. J. Nesbitt, J. B. Desojo, R. B. Irmis
Download citation file:
Archosauromorphs radiated into numerous trophic niches during the Mesozoic, many of which were accommodated by particular suites of cranial adaptations and feeding behaviours. The mandibular symphysis, the joint linking the mandibles, is a poorly understood craniomandibular joint that may offer significant insight into skull function and feeding ecology. Using comparative data from extant amniotes, we investigated the skeletal anatomy and osteological correlates of relevant soft tissues in a survey of archosauromorph mandibular symphyses. Characters were identified and their evolution mapped using a current phylogeny of archosauriforms with the addition of non-archosauriform archosauromorphs. Extinct taxa with the simple Class I condition (e.g. proterochampsids, ‘rauisuchians’), rugose Class II (aetosaurs, protosuchians, silesaurids) and interdigitating Class III symphyses (e.g. phytosaurs, crocodyliforms) and finally fused Class IV (avians) build the joints in expected ways, although they differ in the contributions of bony elements and Meckel’s cartilage. Optimization of the different classes of symphyses across archosauromorph clades indicates that major iterative transitions from plesiomorphic Class I to derived, rigid Class II–IV symphyses occurred along the lines to phytosaurs, aetosaurs, a subset of poposauroids, crocodyliformes, pterosaurs and birds. These transitions in symphyseal morphology also appear to track changes in dentition and potentially diet.
Figures & Tables
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.