Yara Haridy, Mark J. Macdougall, Diane Scott & Robert R. Reisz (2016)
Ontogenetic Change in the Temporal Region of the Early Permian Parareptile Delorhynchus cifellii and the Implications for Closure of the Temporal Fenestra in Amniotes.
PLoS ONE 11(12): e0166819.
A juvenile specimen of Delorhynchus cifellii, collected from the Early Permian fissure-fill deposits of Richards Spur, Oklahoma, permits the first detailed study of cranial ontogeny in this parareptile. The specimen, consisting of a partially articulated skull and mandible, exhibits several features that identify it as juvenile. The dermal tuberosities that ornament the dorsal side and lateral edges of the largest skull of D. cifellii specimens, are less prominent in the intermediate sized holotype, and are absent in the new specimen. This indicates that the new specimen represents an earlier ontogenetic stage than all previously described members of this species. In addition, the incomplete interdigitation of the sutures, most notably along the fronto-nasal contact, plus the proportionally larger sizes of the orbit and temporal fenestrae further support an early ontogenetic stage for this specimen. Comparisons between this juvenile and previously described specimens reveal that the size and shape of the temporal fenestra in Delorhynchus appear to vary through ontogeny, due to changes in the shape and size of the bordering cranial elements. The jugal of the juvenile specimen is tri-radiate and similar in outline with those found in other amniotes with temporal fenestrae. The available growth series of D. cifellii shows that the jugal gradually becomes a more robust, tetra-radiate element, as the proportionate size of the temporal fenestra is reduced. Ontogenetic changes of other elements that form the border of the fenestra also contribute to its reduction. This growth series provides valuable new information regarding the ontogenetic trajectory of the temporal fenestra in a Palaeozoic reptile, which may be applicable to the evolutionary event of loss of temporal fenestration in other amniotes.