Jia Jia & Ke-Qin Gao (2016)
A new hynobiid-like salamander (Amphibia, Urodela) from Inner Mongolia, China, provides a rare case study of developmental features in an Early Cretaceous fossil urodele.
A new fossil salamander, Nuominerpeton aquilonaris (gen. et sp. nov.), is named and described based on specimens from the Lower Cretaceous Guanghua Formation of Inner Mongolia, China. The new discovery documents a far northern occurrence of Early Cretaceous salamanders in China, extending the geographic distribution for the Mesozoic fossil record of the group from the Jehol area (40th–45th parallel north) to near the 49th parallel north. The new salamander is characterized by having the orbitosphenoid semicircular in shape; coracoid plate of the scapulocoracoid greatly expanded with a convex ventral and posterior border; ossification of two centralia in carpus and tarsus; and first digit being about half the length of the second digit in both manus and pes. The new salamander appears to be closely related to hynobiids, although this inferred relationship awaits confirmation by research in progress by us on a morphological and molecular combined analysis of cryptobranchoid relationships. Comparison of adult with larval and postmetamorphic juvenile specimens provides insights into developmental patterns of cranial and postcranial skeletons in this fossil species, especially resorption of the palatine and anterior portions of the palatopterygoid in the palate and the coronoid in the mandible during metamorphosis, and postmetamorphic ossification of the mesopodium in both manus and pes. Thus, this study provides a rare case study of developmental features in a Mesozoic salamander.