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Article: Limited convergence in the postcranium of aquatic Crocodylomorpha

Palaeontology - Vol. 66 - Cover Image all volumes
Publication: Palaeontology
Volume: 66
Part: 6
Publication Date: 2023
Article number: e12678
Author(s): Isaure Scavezzoni, and Valentin Fischer
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SCAVEZZONI, I., FISCHER, V. 2023. Limited convergence in the postcranium of aquatic Crocodylomorpha. Palaeontology, 66, 6, e12678. DOI:

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Abstract Thalattosuchia (Early Jurassic to Early Cretaceous) and Dyrosauridea (Late Cretaceous to Early Eocene) are crocodylomorph archosaurs which diversified in fluvial and marine environments and endured extinction events (i.e. Jurassic–Cretaceous boundary for Thalattosuchia; Cretaceous–Palaeogene for Dyrosauridea). Their postcrania remain globally undervalued in anatomical descriptions and diagnoses, shrouding the locomotive adaptations that possibly underpinned their radiations and longevity. We thoroughly surveyed the postcranial morphology of Dyrosauridea and Thalattosuchia, recreated their girdles in three-dimensions using tens of high-precisions 3D scans, and analysed their shape using geometric morphometrics. Dyrosauridea and Thalattosuchia have clearly distinct postcrania, even when found within similar environments, suggesting the existence of clade-specific features limiting the strength of evolutionary convergence. Moreover, the range of postcranial morphologies evolved by dyrosaurids and thalattosuchians is large compared to extant crocodylians, making the latter unsatisfactory functional analogues for every group of extinct crocodylomorphs. Our work reveals the previously unsuspected potential of postcranial anatomy as an abundant source of phylogenetic and taxonomic characters to assess the relationships within Crocodylomorpha. Incorporation of postcranial anatomy therefore appears crucial to fully assess the ecology, disparity, and relationships of crocodylomorphs.
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