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Computed Tomography elucidates ontogeny within the basal therapsid clade Biarmosuchia

Authors
  • Duhamel, Aliénor
  • Benoit, Julien
  • Day, Michael
  • Rubidge, Bruce
  • Fernandez, Vincent
Type
Published Article
Journal
PeerJ
Publisher
PeerJ
Publication Date
Aug 26, 2021
Volume
9
Identifiers
DOI: 10.7717/peerj.11866
PMID: 34527434
PMCID: PMC8403480
Source
PubMed Central
Keywords
Disciplines
  • Paleontology
License
Unknown
External links

Abstract

Biarmosuchia is a clade of basal therapsids that includes forms possessing plesiomorphic ‘pelycosaurian’ cranial characters as well as the highly derived Burnetiamorpha which are characterised by cranial pachyostosis and a variety of cranial bosses. Potential ontogenetic variation in these structures has been suggested based on growth series of other therapsids with pachyostosed crania, which complicates burnetiamorph taxonomic distinction and thus it is essential to better understand cranial ontogeny of the Burnetiamorpha. Here, three new juvenile biarmosuchian skulls from the late Permian of South Africa are described using X-ray micro computed tomography (CT). We found that juvenile biarmosuchians are distinguished from adults by their relatively large orbits, open cranial sutures, and incomplete ossification of the braincase and bony labyrinth. Also, they manifest multiple centres of ossification within the parietal and preparietal bones. CT examination reveals that the holotype of Lemurosaurus pricei (BP/1/816), previously alleged to be a juvenile, shows no evidence of juvenility and is thus probably an adult. This suggests that the larger skull NMQR 1702, previously considered to be an adult L. pricei , may represent a new taxon. This study provides, for the first time, a list of characters by which to recognise juvenile biarmosuchians.

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