Abstract

The Hapsidopareiontidae are microsaurian amphibians known only from the Lower Permian of the U.S. The hapsidopareiontid skull has a large temporal embayment that occupies most of the area of the cheek, in which the quadratojugal is either absent (Hapsidopareion) or present and greatly reduced (Llistrofus). The unique holotype skull of Llistrofus pricei is well preserved in soft clay. It was originally prepared and described in dorsal view only, but has now been prepared completely free of the matrix. This permitted the first description of the palate, occiput and mandible along with a redescription of the rest of the skull, resulting in substantial emendation of previously published descriptions. Comparison with the eight known complete and partial skulls of Hapsidopareion lepton demonstrates that the two genera are much more similar than had been recognized earlier. Their continued separation is advocated, however, based on size difference, a small number of osteological differences, and the difficulty of obtaining comparably detailed morphological information for Hapsidopareion, which is less well preserved than the Llistrofus specimen. The new morphological information, combined with results of recently published cladistic analyses, suggests that Hapsidopareion and Llistrofus are the only microsaurs that can at present be assigned to the Hapsidopareiontidae. The large temporal embayment of hapsidopareiontids might be thought to have significant functional implications, possibly including “escape” of jaw adductor musculature onto the skull roof. Detailed consideration of this possibility reveals morphological evidence to the contrary, however, and the functional implications of the embayment remain uncertain.

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