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Article: A new species of burnetiid (Therapsida, Burnetiamorpha) from the early Wuchiapingian of South Africa and implications for the evolutionary ecology of the family Burnetiidae

Papers in Palaeontology - Volume 4 Part 3 - Cover Image
Publication: Palaeontology
Volume: 4
Part: 3
Publication Date: August 2018
Page(s): 453 475
Author(s): Michael O. Day, Roger M. H. Smith, Julien Benoit, Vincent Fernandez, and Bruce S. Rubidge
DOI: 10.1002/spp2.1114
Addition Information

How to Cite

DAY, M.O., SMITH, R.M.H., BENOIT, J., FERNANDEZ, V., RUBIDGE, B.S. 2018. A new species of burnetiid (Therapsida, Burnetiamorpha) from the early Wuchiapingian of South Africa and implications for the evolutionary ecology of the family Burnetiidae. Papers in Palaeontology, 4, 3, 453-475. DOI: /doi/10.1002/spp2.1114

Author Information

  • Michael O. Day - Evolutionary Studies Institute & School of Geoscience University of the Witwatersrand Johannesburg 2050 South Africa
  • Roger M. H. Smith - Evolutionary Studies Institute & School of Geoscience University of the Witwatersrand Johannesburg 2050 South Africa
  • Roger M. H. Smith - Department of Karoo Palaeontology Iziko South African Museum Cape Town South Africa
  • Julien Benoit - Evolutionary Studies Institute & School of Geoscience University of the Witwatersrand Johannesburg 2050 South Africa
  • Vincent Fernandez - Evolutionary Studies Institute & School of Geoscience University of the Witwatersrand Johannesburg 2050 South Africa
  • Vincent Fernandez - European Synchrotron Radiation Facility Grenoble France
  • Bruce S. Rubidge - Evolutionary Studies Institute & School of Geoscience University of the Witwatersrand Johannesburg 2050 South Africa

Publication History

  • Issue published online: 03 August 2018
  • Manuscript Accepted: 14 February 2018
  • Manuscript Received: 28 November 2017

Funded By

National Research Foundation
DST/NRF Centre of Excellence in Palaeosciences

Online Version Hosted By

Wiley Online Library
Get Article: Wiley Online Library [Pay-to-View Access] |

Abstract

Burnetiidae is a family of basal therapsids that is known from sequences of late Permian (Lopingian) age from southern and eastern Africa and European Russia. Recent discoveries of related genera within the broader clade Burnetiamorpha have added to our understanding of morphological variation in the group but have eroded the list of characters defining the family Burnetiidae. We describe a new burnetiid taxon, Leucocephalus wewersi gen. et sp. nov., and argue that Burnetiidae can be defined by, among other characters, the presence of two bosses on the ventrolateral surface of suborbital bar and zygomatic arch, high skull angulation between the orbits, and a median frontal crest that becomes wider and lower posteriorly. The new specimen was found in the early Wuchiapingian Tropidostoma Assemblage Zone of the Main Karoo Basin and, along with previous discoveries, indicates that the family reached its greatest diversity and abundance in the early Wuchiapingian. Diversity declined into the later Wuchiapingian and Changhsingian. Although the clade Burnetiamorpha, including the family Burnetiidae, contains at least 11 genera, each of these is exceptionally rare, with most represented by only one specimen. This could be attributed to a genuine ecological characteristic or may be the result of biogeographical factors, particularly if the Main Karoo Basin was on the periphery of their range.

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