The early evolution of Ornithodira —the clade including pterosaurs and dinosaurs— is poorly known. Until a decade ago, the basal radiation of Dinosauromorpha, the clade including dinosaurs and birds, was poorly understood because of the poor fossil record restricted to specimens known from the Ladinian Chañares Formation in Argentina. Over the last years the discovery of several non-dinosaurian dinosauromorphs dramatically expanded this record and also demonstrated that this group —previously restricted to de Middle Triassic— survived at least well into the Norian. Although Norian non-dinosaurian dinosauromorphs have been reported from several regions around the world, the only known Norian non-dinosauriform dinosauromorphs —Dromomeron romeri Irmis, Nesbitt, Padian, Smith, Turner, Woody, and Downs and Dromomeron gregorii Nesbitt, Irmis, Parker, Smith, Turner, and Rowe— come from North America. We report here the first record from the Southern Hemisphere of a non-dinosauriform dinosauromorph, Dromomeron gigas sp. nov., from the Norian Quebrada del Barro Formation, northwestern Argentina. A phylogenetic analysis recovers Dromomeron gigas nested into the monophyletic group Lagerpetidae, and as the sister taxon to Dromomeron romeri. The inclusion of D. gigas within Lagerpetidae suggests that body size increased in this lineage over time, as was previously demonstrated for Dinosauriformes as a whole, and that lagerpetids reached a larger size than previously thought. Finally, the new finding provides new information on the basal radiation of Dinosauromorpha constituting the first record of a Norian association of dinosaurs with non-dinosauriform dinosauromorphs outside North America.
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Vol. 53 • No. 1