Abstract

Traversodontidae is a group of Triassic herbivorous/omnivorous cynodonts that represents the most diversified lineage within Cynognathia. In southern Brazil, a rich fossil record of late Middle/mid-Late Triassic cynodonts has been documented, with Exaeretodon riograndensis Abdala, Barberena, and Dornelles, 2002 and Siriusgnathus niemeyerorum Pavanatto et al., 2018 representing two abundant and well-documented traversodontids. The present study provides a comparative analysis of the morphology of the nasal cavity, nasal recesses, nasolacrimal duct, and maxillary canals of both species using computed tomography, highlighting the changes that occurred in parallel to the origin of mammaliaforms. Our results show that there were no ossified turbinals or a cribriform plate delimiting the posterior end of the nasal cavity, suggesting these structures were probably cartilaginous as in nonmammaliaform cynodonts. Both species show lateral ridges on the internal surface of the roof of the nasal cavity, but the median ridge for the attachment of a nasal septum is absent. Exaeretodon riograndensis and S. niemeyerorum show recesses on the dorsal region of the nasal cavity, which increase the volume of the nasal cavity, potentially enhancing the olfactory chamber and contributing to the sense of smell. On the lateral sides of the nasal cavity, the analyzed taxa show a well-developed maxillary recess. Although E. riograndensis and S. niemeyerorum have roughly similar nasal cavities, in the former taxon, the space between the left and right dorsal recesses of the nasal cavity is uniform along its entire extension, whereas this space narrows posteriorly in S. niemeyerorum. Finally, the nasolacrimal duct of S. niemeyerorum is more inclined anteroposteriorly than in E. riograndensis.

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