Monday, July 17, 2017

The Saurosphargid That Wasn't

Saurosphargid by Ethan Kocak
You might all remember that, some time ago, I introduced you all to an obscure group of Triassic marine reptiles called saurosphargids. This strange group of tubby critters includes just three genera: Saurosphargis, Largocephalosaurus, and Sinosaurosphargis. Confusingly, Nosotti & Reippel (2003) named and described Eusaurosphargis under the assumption that the original genus—Saurosphargis—was a nomen dubium as the original (and only) specimen of that taxon was destroyed during WWII.* Nosotti & Reippel named it Eusaurosphargis even though—according to their own analysis—Eusaurosphargis was not a saurosphargid, but a sister taxon to Hovasaurus, a very different marine reptile from the Permian. They could not decide whether Eusaurosphargis was aquatic or terrestrial, but since it was routinely found to be closely allied to Triassic marine reptiles, though, a life aquatic was the more obvious choice.