New species of Triassic reptiles identified in Brazil

maehary bonaparte is considered the most basal of the evolutionary line that gave rise to pterosaurs.

(A) location map of the Linha São Luiz site in Brazil and surface distribution of geological units in the area; (B) general view of the Linha São Luiz site; (C) hypothetical reconstruction of the skeleton of Faxinalipterus minimus representing in orange the retained elements; (D) hypothetical skull reconstruction of maehary bonaparte illustrating some of the preserved elements. Image credit: Kellner et al., doi: 10.7717/peerj.13276.

maehary bonaparte lived in what is now Brazil during the Norian Triassic Age, approximately 225 million years ago.

“It bears a particular anatomy and is considered the first divergent member of Pterosauromorphsaid Dr. Alexander Kellner of the Museu Nacional de l’Universidade Federal do Rio de Janeiro and his colleagues.

The fossilized remains of maehary bonaparte – a partial skull, a partial lower jaw, vertebral centra and a fragmentary scapula – were found at the Linha São Luiz site, about 1.5 km northeast of the city of Faxinal do Soturno in the state of Rio Grande do Sul, in southern Brazil.

The specimen was originally described as Faxinalipterus minimusa species of pterosaur from the Triassic.

“There has always been great doubt whether the two specimens attributed to Faxinalipterus minimus represented the same species and whether it was a flying reptile,” Dr Kellner said.

“It was clear to me that it is a primitive reptile that did not belong to the pterosaurs, since it did not show any unambiguous characteristic of this lineage”, added Dr. Borja Holgado, paleontologist at the Museu Nacional de l Federal University of Rio. de Janeiro and the Institut Català de Paleontologia Miquel Crusafont of the Universitat Autònoma de Barcelona.

“But current knowledge of faunas at the end of the Triassic indicates that the disparity of animals at this time was so great that animals that might look like pterosaurs at first glance, but in reality are not flying reptiles. is what happened to Faxinalipterus minimus and maehary bonaparte.”

The researchers also found that Faxinalipterus minimus was a member of Lagerpetidaea branch considered a sister group to Pterosauria.

“That’s to say, Faxinalipterus minimus and maehary bonaparte are not pterosaurs, but are related to them,” said Dr. Rodrigo Müller, a paleonologist at the Centro de Apoio at Pesquisa Paleontológica da Quarta Colônia at the Universidade Federal de Santa Maria.

“Above all maehary bonaparte is set up as a key element in elucidating how anatomical features evolved along the lineage of pterosauromorphs to the fully flight-adapted pterosaurs themselves.

The study was published online in the journal PeerJ.


A.W.A. Kellner et al. 2022. Reassessment of Faxinalipterus minimusa purported Triassic pterosaur from southern Brazil with the description of a new taxon. PeerJ 10:e13276; doi: 10.7717/peerj.13276

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