Ilia of anurans (frogs) and urodeles (salamanders) are commonly recovered from microvertebrate fossil localities. Ilia in these clades are distinctive when complete and articulated with the rest of the pelvic girdle, but when preserved as isolated and broken fossils they may appear superficially similar. Reliable identification of urodele ilia is further hampered by limited information about the basic structure and contacts of the bone and its variation within the clade. Here we demonstrate that the ilium is more variable among urodeles than previously realized and provide the first detailed inventory of features that are potentially useful for differentiating ilia of anurans and urodeles. Many of these features relate to differences between the two clades in the orientation of the ilium and its contacts with other bones and with soft tissues. Based on the results of our survey, we re-interpret the holotype and two referred ilia of Nezpercius dodsoni (Late Cretaceous; Montana, U.S.A.) as being from an indeterminate urodele, not an anuran as originally described. Additional examples of Late Cretaceous urodele ilia are documented to highlight some of the variation seen in fossil urodele ilia and to aid in the proper identification of such specimens.
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Vol. 30 • No. 6