The monospecific genera Eothyris (Petrolia Formation, Leonardian, Archer County, Texas) and Oedaleops (Abo/Cutler Formation, Wolfcampian, Rio Arriba County, New Mexico), known solely from cranial remains, are confidently assigned to the monophyletic Caseasauria based on cranial and dental characters. In addition, Eothyris and Oedaleops comprise the monophyletic Eothyrididae based on nine cranial and dental characters. In contrast to the medium to large sized herbivorous caseids, the small eothyridids exhibit dental features that indicate that they were faunivores. The presence of well-developed caniniform teeth suggests that they were predators. Both Eothyris parkeyi Romer and Oedaleops campi Langsten exhibit a suite of plesiomorphic cranial characters that identify them as basal synapsids. Thus, the eothyridids are better representatives of the primitive synapsid cranial morphotype than the oftenused ophiacodontids. Although they appear relatively late in synapsid evolution, both eothyridids are significantly older than all other caseasaurs, forcing the establishment of a long unrecorded lineage for caseids.
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Vol. 29 • No. 1