Abstract

A restudy of the Upper Permian diapsid Acerosodontosaurus piveteaui from Madagascar indicates that the bone formerly identified as the quadratojugal is a fragment of a rib. This in turn implies that, in contrast to previous studies, the lower temporal arcade must be considered incomplete and derived relative to the ancestral condition. Since the phylogenetic position of Acerosodontosaurus is poorly understood, the taxon was entered into a modified phylogenetic data matrix of diapsid reptiles, and the purported monophyly of “Younginiformes” was tested for the first time by including all potential members of the clade as separate taxa, as well as other taxa from the same deposits. The results of the phylogenetic analysis do not support the monophyly of “younginiform” reptiles. Instead, most taxa cluster unresolved at the base of Neodiapsida, a finding that has important implications for the understanding of early diapsid evolution because it suggests that early neodiapsids represent several distinct evolutionary lineages. Acerosodontosaurus and Hovasaurus do form a clade, a finding consistent with the stratigraphic age and biogeography of these taxa.

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