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1 May 2013 Cranial Morphology of Recumbirostrans (Lepospondyli) from the Permian of Kansas and Nebraska, and Early Morphological Evolution Inferred by Micro-Computed Tomography
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Abstract

‘Microsaurs’ (Lepospondyli) were a group of tetrapods whose fossil record spanned the Mississippian—Early Permian, and have sometimes been implicated in the origins of lissamphibians (especially the fossorial caecilians). Although common in the well-sampled Permian deposits of Texas and Oklahoma, little is known of conservative recumbirostran ‘microsaurs’ from more northerly localities (Kansas/Nebraska). Data on a new, well-preserved recumbirostran, Huskerpeton englehorni, gen. et sp. nov., from the Eskridge Formation, Nebraska, reveal affinities to the purported gymnarthrid ‘Euryodusbonneri (here moved to a new genus, Proxilodon) from the Speiser Formation, Kansas. High resolution micro-computed tomography reveals important endocranial data, including an ossified ‘supraoccipital’ that is usually absent in gymnarthrids, a dorsal sinus separating the synotic tectum from the dermal skull roof as in ostodolepids, ventral flanges of the frontals articulating directly with the ascending lamina of the sphenethmoid, and tall, ossified ‘pleurosphenoids,’ thereby providing useful comparison with morphologically derived recumbirostrans. A cladistic analysis of 60 taxa and 227 characters recovered a monophyletic clade of Huskerpeton, Proxilodon, and the recently described Tambaroter within a more inclusive clade that includes gymnarthrids and ostodolepids (both nested members of the Recumbirostra and putative outgroups to caecilians). Whereas other lepospondyls (i.e., lysorophians) are abundant in the region, the records of Huskerpeton and Proxilodon reveal that only two ‘microsaur’ genera are adequately known from the lowermost Permian of Kansas/Nebraska and demonstrate similarities between the Eskridge and Speiser faunas. Moreover, these forms may represent the ground plan from which more specialized fossorial forms (gymnarthrids and ostodolepids) evolved.

SUPPLEMENTAL DATA—Supplemental materials are available for this article for free at  www.tandfonline.com/UJVP

© 2013 by the Society of Vertebrate Paleontology
Adam K. Huttenlocker, Jason D. Pardo, Bryan J. Small, and Jason S. Anderson "Cranial Morphology of Recumbirostrans (Lepospondyli) from the Permian of Kansas and Nebraska, and Early Morphological Evolution Inferred by Micro-Computed Tomography," Journal of Vertebrate Paleontology 33(3), (1 May 2013). https://doi.org/10.1080/02724634.2013.728998
Received: 2 May 2012; Accepted: 7 September 2012; Published: 1 May 2013
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