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Pareiasaur (Parareptilia) Middle Permian habitat

From: Ben Creisler

A new online paper:

Aurore Canoville, Daniel B. Thomas & Anusuya Chinsamy (2014)
Insights into the habitat of Middle Permian pareiasaurs (Parareptilia)
from preliminary isotopic analyses.
Lethaia (advance online publication)
DOI: 10.1111/let.12056

Pareiasaurs were an abundant group of large herbivores during Middle
and Late Permian times. The habitat of pareiasaurs has proven
enigmatic, and ecological interpretations from anatomical and
taphonomic data have included aquatic, semi-aquatic to fully
terrestrial lifestyles. Insight into the ecology of extinct taxa can
also be gained from stable isotope analyses, and interpretations
benefit from studies of multiple, coeval groups. Here, we report the
first stable carbon and oxygen isotope analyses from the enamel,
dentine and bone of pareiasaurs and contemporaneous therapsids
(dinocephalians and therocephalians), in specimens recovered from the
Permian Tapinocephalus to lower Pristerognathus Assemblage Zones of
South Africa. Previous ecological inferences for dinocephalians
(riparian to terrestrial) and therocephalians (terrestrial) are less
ambiguous than reconstructions for pareiasaurs and provide an
independent reference for interpreting stable isotope measurements.
Oxygen isotopes of enamel carbonate were indistinguishable between
pareiasaurs and therocephalians, which had higher values than
dinocephalians. The data suggest that dinocephalians and pareiasaurs
(megaherbivores) inhabited different ecological niches and that
pareiasaurs may have shared a terrestrial habitat with therocephalians
(carnivores). Our results agree with earlier suggestions of a
terrestrial lifestyle among pareiasaurs and provide evidence of niche
partitioning among large coeval Capitanian herbivores of South Africa.