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Hwiccewyrm trispiculum gen. et sp. nov., a new leptopleuronine procolophonid from the Late Triassic of southwest England.

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Abstract

The fissure fill localities of southwest England and South Wales are well-known for preserving rich assemblages of predominantly small-bodied Late Triassic to Early Jurassic tetrapods, but many aspects of these assemblages remain contentious. The age of the Late Triassic fissures is disputed, with some lines of argument suggesting a latest Triassic (Rhaetian) age, whereas other evidence suggests they may be as old as Carnian. The fissures have been hypothesized by some workers to have formed on an archipelago, with island effects invoked to explain aspects of the assemblages such as the abundance of small-bodied species. Procolophonids were a successful group of Triassic parareptiles, best known from Early to early Late Triassic assemblages, but have only recently been described from one of the fissure fill sites (Ruthin) based upon fragmentary remains. Here, we describe new procolophonid specimens from another fissure (Cromhall) that represent at least six individuals of different sizes, with much of the skeleton represented including well-preserved skull material. The Cromhall procolophonid shows strong similarities to Late Triassic procolophonids from Scotland, Brazil and North America, but both autapomorphies and a unique character combination demonstrate that it represents a new species, which we name as Hwiccewyrm trispiculum gen. et sp. nov. Phylogenetic analysis places Hwiccewyrm in a derived clade within Leptopleuroninae, together with Leptopleuron, Hypsognathus, and Soturnia. The largest specimens of Hwiccewyrm demonstrate a body size that is similar to Leptopleuron and Hypsognathus, supporting other recent work that has questioned the insular dwarfism hypothesis for the fissure fill assemblages.

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Keywords

Parareptilia, Procolophonidae, Triassic, fissure fills, phylogeny, Humans, Animals, Phylogeny, Fossils, Skull, Head, Brazil, Dinosaurs

Journal Title

Anat Rec (Hoboken)

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Journal ISSN

1932-8486
1932-8494

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Publisher

Wiley