The evolution of mammal-like crocodyliforms in the Cretaceous Period of Gondwana

O'Connor, Patrick M., Sertich, Joseph J.W., Stevens, Nancy J., Roberts, Eric M., Gottfried, Michael D., Hieronymus, Tobin L., Jinnah, Zubair A., Ridgely, Ryan, Ngasala, Sifa E., and Temba, Jesuit (2010) The evolution of mammal-like crocodyliforms in the Cretaceous Period of Gondwana. Nature, 466 (7307). pp. 748-751.

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Abstract

Fossil crocodyliforms discovered in recent years have revealed a level of morphological and ecological diversity not exhibited by extant members of the group. This diversity is particularly notable among taxa of the Cretaceous Period (144–65 million years ago) recovered from former Gondwanan landmasses. Here we report the discovery of a new species of Cretaceous notosuchian crocodyliform from the Rukwa Rift Basin of southwestern Tanzania. This small-bodied form deviates significantly from more typical crocodyliform craniodental morphologies, having a short, broad skull, robust lower jaw, and a dentition with relatively few teeth that nonetheless show marked heterodonty. The presence of morphologically complex, complementary upper and lower molariform teeth suggests a degree of crown–crown contact during jaw adduction that is unmatched among known crocodyliforms, paralleling the level of occlusal complexity seen in mammals and their extinct relatives. The presence of another small-bodied mammal-like crocodyliform in the Cretaceous of Gondwana indicates that notosuchians probably filled niches and inhabited ecomorphospace that were otherwise occupied by mammals on northern continents.

Item ID: 11783
Item Type: Article (Refereed Research - C1)
ISSN: 1476-4687
Date Deposited: 06 Sep 2010 04:05
FoR Codes: 04 EARTH SCIENCES > 0403 Geology > 040308 Palaeontology (incl Palynology) @ 100%
SEO Codes: 97 EXPANDING KNOWLEDGE > 970104 Expanding Knowledge in the Earth Sciences @ 100%
Citation Count from Web of Science Web of Science 23
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