A new taxon of peirosaurid crocodyliform, Rukwasuchus yajabalijekundu, gen. et sp. nov., is described on the basis of a well-preserved partial skull from the middle Cretaceous Galula Formation exposed in southwestern Tanzania. The skull is distinguished from those of other crocodyliforms by the presence of a mediolaterally narrow, elongate, and septate internal narial fenestra (choana) located anteriorly on the pterygoid; a markedly depressed posterior border of the parietal, excluding the supraoccipital from the dorsal cranial table; and a ventrally directed descending process of the postorbital with a well-developed posteroventral process. The lateral surface of the braincase is exquisitely preserved and includes a well-developed laterosphenoid bridge dividing the foramina for the three primary branches of the trigeminal nerve. In overall morphology, the holotype skull and isolated teeth compare closely with Hamadasuchus rebouli from the middle Cretaceous Kem Kem Beds of Morocco. Reevaluation of the problematic putative African peirosaurid taxa Stolokrosuchus lapparenti and Trematochampsa taqueti reveal a number of derived cranial characters shared with Peirosauridae and Araripesuchus. A close relationship between Rukwasuchus and other African members of Peirosauridae is supported by a parsimony analysis of Crocodyliformes. As the only known sub-Saharan peirosaurid from Africa, Rukwasuchus represents the only link between middle Cretaceous southern vertebrate faunas and much more abundant, taxonomically diverse, and potentially penecontemporaneous faunas from northern Africa.
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Vol. 34 • No. 3