Abstract

A morphological study of the postcranial skeleton of Procolophon trigoniceps from the Lower Triassic of South Africa and Antarctica is undertaken. Procolophon shares a sister-group relationship with the procolophonid Tichvinskia from the Lower Triassic of Russia and is a basal member of Procolophonidae. This clade also includes the enigmatic taxon Sclerosaurus, believed most recently to be a pareiasaur relative. Owenettids form a separate lineage from Procolophonidae and are predominantly restricted to the Permian of both South Africa and Madagascar. A phylogenetically based assessment is considered, in which specialized modern taxa (sand lizards) are compared to their nonfossorial sister clade, allowing for “key innovations” to be identified. A similar comparison between owenettids and procolophonids reveals a number of apparent “key innovations” within procolophonids that are suggestive of a burrowing lifestyle for Procolophon.

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