Aetosaurs are a group of quadrupedal, armoured pseudosuchian archosaurs from the Upper Triassic. They are characterized by dorsal and ventral carapaces, and appendicular osteoderms, all of them ornamented. Aetosaurs have been proposed as index fossils largely based on the distinctiveness of some osteoderms. Therefore, it is important to understand the intraspecific variation of these elements in the clade. In the present contribution, we describe three types of ornamentation on the medial area of paramedian osteoderms in the dorsal armour of Aetosauroides scagliai Casamiquela: the “radial pattern” the “anastomosing pattern”; and an “intermediate” or “transitional pattern”, that is an intermediate between “radial” and “anastomosing” patterns. The articulated dorsal armour preserved in specimens PVL 2059 and PVL 2073 possesses osteoderms carrying all three patterns of ornamentation, but they differ by the position of each type of osteoderm on the carapace. Recent studies on histological thin-sections of osteoderms of A. scagliai reveal the absence of osteoderm tissue remodeling, allowing the estimation of age by counting LAGs (lines of arrested growth). PVL 2073 is slightly shorter (∼10% longer centra) but also ontogenetically younger (5 LAGs) than PVL 2059 (10 LAGs; slightly wider osteoderms). Combining this information and comparing it with that of living crocodiles (where male specimens typically are relatively larger than females of the same age), we conclude that the intraspecific variation observed in A. scagliai is compatible with the hypothesis of sexual dimorphism. These results suggest the need to explore the sources of intraspecific variation in aetosaurs.
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Vol. 52 • No. 2