Royal Society Publishing

Arizonasaurus and its implications for archosaur divergence

Sterling J. Nesbitt


The Moenkopi Formation has yielded partial and isolated remains of important archosaurs including rauisuchian skull fragments and isolated poposaur centra and pelvic girdle elements. A recently discovered skeleton referable to Arizonasaurus babbitti shows that most of these archosaurian remains belong to one taxon. Characteristics of the skeleton of Arizonasaurus show that it belongs to a poorly known group of Middle Triassic (240-230 Myr ago) archosaurs called the ctenosauriscids, and that ctenosauriscids are or are closely related to poposaurs. Furthermore, many characteristics of Arizonasaurus provide evidence that poposaurids and ctenosauriscids are derived rauisuchians. The presence of a poposaurid in the early Middle Triassic suggests that the divergence of birds and crocodiles occurred earlier than previously thought. Middle Triassic ctenosauriscids also allow the correlation of Triassic faunas in Europe, Asia, North America and Africa. The Moenkopi Formation fauna represents a transitional fauna between Early and Late Triassic faunas.

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