Article: The endocast of Euparkeria sheds light on the ancestral archosaur nervous system
Matteo Fabbri, and Bhart-Anjan S. Bhullar
Abstract Understanding the evolution of the tetrapod brain is essential to trace the history of ecomorphological diversification of modern clades. While previous studies focused on the morphological transformation of the nervous system along the dinosaur–bird transition, little is known about the brain anatomy of archosauriformes and early archosaurs. Here, we describe the endocast of Euparkeria capensis, a small bodied, terrestrial archosauriform closely related to Archosauria, with the goal of resolving the current uncertainties surrounding the ancestral condition of the archosaurian nervous system. The endocast of Euparkeria is sigmoidal, with large olfactory bulbs, an expanded cerebral hemisphere and an elongated flocculus. We suggest that this pivotal taxon was an active predator with a remarkable olfactory acuity. Overall, the endocast of Euparkeria resembles the ones observed in phytosaurs, crocodilians and early dinosaurs, implying that modern crocodilians retain an archosaurian plesiomorphic brain morphology.