The Late Triassic pseudosuchian Revueltosaurus callenderi and its implications for the diversity of early ornithischian dinosaurs

William G Parker, Randall B Irmis, Sterling J Nesbitt, Jeffrey W Martz, Lori S Browne

Abstract

A new discovery of skeletons of Revueltosaurus callenderi from the Upper Triassic Chinle Formation of Petrified Forest National Park, Arizona clearly shows that Revueltosaurus is not an ornithischian dinosaur as previously supposed. Features such as the presence of a postfrontal, crocodile-normal ankle and paramedian osteoderms with anterior bars place R. callenderi within the Pseudosuchia, closer to crocodylomorphs than to dinosaurs. Therefore, dental characters previously used to place Revueltosaurus within the Ornithischia evolved convergently among other archosaur taxa, and cannot be used to diagnose ornithischian dinosaur teeth. As a result, all other putative North American Late Triassic ornithischians, which are all based exclusively on teeth, are cast into doubt. The only reasonably well-confirmed Late Triassic ornithischians worldwide are Pisanosaurus mertii and an unnamed heterodontosaurid from Argentina. This considerably changes the understanding of early dinosaur diversity, distribution and evolution in the Late Triassic.

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Footnotes

  • As this paper exceeds the maximum length normally permitted, the authors have agreed to contribute to production costs.

    • Received December 2, 2004.
    • Accepted December 10, 2004.
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