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Eretmorhipis, new hupehsuchian from Lower Triassic of China

Ben Creisler

New in PLoS ONE:

Xiao-hong Chen, Ryosuke Motani , Long Cheng, Da-yong Jiang & Olivier
Rieppel (2015)
A New Specimen of Carroll’s Mystery Hupehsuchian from the Lower
Triassic of China.
PLoS ONE 10(5): e0126024.

A new specimen of an enigmatic hupehsuchian genus is reported. The
genus was first recognized by Robert L. Carroll and Zhi-ming Dong in
1991, who refrained from naming it because of the poor quality of the
only specimen known at the time. After more than two decades, we
finally report a second specimen of this genus, which remained
unprepared until recently. The new specimen preserves most of the
skeleton except the skull, allowing us to erect a new genus and
species, Eretmorhipis carrolldongi. The new species shares many
characters with Parahupehsuchus longus, including the strange axial
skeleton that forms a bony body tube. However, the body tube is short
in the new species, being limited to the pectoral region. The
vertebral count and limb morphology considerably differ between the
new species and P. longus. The forelimb of E. carrolldongi is markedly
larger than its hind limb as in Hupehsuchus nanchangensis but unlike
in P. longus. The new species is unique among hupehsuchians in a list
of features. It has manual and pedal digits that spread radially,
forming manus and pes that are almost as wide as long. The third-layer
elements of the dermal armor are unusually large, spanning four
vertebral segments, yet there are substantial gaps among them. With
the addition of the unique paddle, it is now clear that Hupehsuchia
had diverse forelimb morphologies spanning from paddles to flippers,
unlike ichthyopterygians that were taxonomically more diverse yet only
had flippers.