Tiago R. Simões, Michael W. Caldwell, Randall L. Nydam and Paulina Jiménez-Huidobro (2016)
Osteology, phylogeny, and functional morphology of two Jurassic lizard species and the early evolution of scansoriality in geckoes.
Zoological Journal of the Linnean Society (advance online publication)
Late Jurassic lizards from Solnhofen, Germany, include some of the oldest known articulated lizard specimens, sometimes including soft tissue preservation. These specimens are thus very important to our understanding of early squamate morphology and taxonomy, and also provide valuable information on squamate phylogeny. Eichstaettisaurus schroederi and Ardeosaurus digitatellus are two of the best-preserved species from that locality, the former being represented by one of the most complete lizard specimen known anywhere in the world from the Jurassic. Despite their relevance to broad questions in squamate evolution, their morphology has never been described in detail, and their systematic placement has been under debate for decades. Here, we provide the first detailed morphological description, species-level phylogeny, and functional morphological evaluation of E. schroederi and A. digitatellus. We corroborate their initial placement as geckoes (stem gekkotans, more specifically), and illustrate a number of climbing adaptations that indicate the early evolution of scansoriality in gekkonomorph lizards.
Jozef Klembara and Michael Rummel (2016)
New material of Ophisaurus, Anguis and Pseudopus (Squamata, Anguidae, Anguinae) from the Miocene of the Czech Republic and Germany and systematic revision and palaeobiogeography of the Cenozoic Anguinae.
Geological Magazine (advance online publication)
Four species of Ophisaurus, O. fejfari, O. spinari, O. robustus and O. holeci, are recognized on the basis of parietals from the Early Miocene of the Czech Republic and Germany. The fifth species, O. acuminatus, is described from the Late Miocene of Germany, but its parietal is not preserved. This paper describes new O. fejfari, O. spinari, O. robustus and O. holeci specimens from the Early and Middle Miocene of the Czech Republic and Germany. The O. fejfari and O. holeci parietals from Germany are the first records of these species outside the Czech Republic. This paper provides a significant contribution to the understanding of both interspecific and intraspecific Ophisaurus variability in the Cenozoic of Europe. A well-preserved parietal of Anguis rarus sp. nov. is described from the Early Miocene of Germany. This is the first record of the parietal of Anguis in the Cenozoic. A new parietal from the Middle Miocene of Germany is described as Pseudopus sp. It differs from the contemporaneous P. laurillardi only in the absence of the large and distinctly laterally projecting anterolateral processes of the parietal. In the Miocene, Ophisaurus and Pseudopus exhibit a higher diversity than that of the preceding geological periods of the Cenozoic. Besides, Ophisaurus emigrates from Europe to (1) Asia and via the Bering Strait to North America, and (2) North Africa during the Oligocene and Miocene. By contrast, Anguis and Pseudopus are limited to Eurasia. The palaeobiogeography of members of Anguinae is discussed.
Stephen F. Poropat, Lesley Kool, Patricia Vickers-Rich & Thomas H. Rich (2016)
Oldest meiolaniid turtle remains from Australia: evidence from the Eocene Kerosene Creek Member of the Rundle Formation, Queensland.
Alcheringa 41 (advance online publication) ISSN 0311-5518.
Fossil meiolaniid turtles are known only from South America and Australasia. The South American record is restricted to the Eocene, and comprises two genera: Niolamia and Gaffneylania. The Australasian meiolaniid record is more diverse, with three genera known (Ninjemys, Warkalania and Meiolania); however, the oldest known specimens from this continent are significantly younger than those from South America, deriving from upper Oligocene sediments in South Australia and Queensland. Herein, we describe the oldest meiolaniid remains found in Australasia to date. The specimens comprise a posterior peripheral, a caudal ring, and an osteoderm, all of which derive from the middle–upper Eocene Rundle Formation of The Narrows Graben, Gladstone, eastern Queensland. Despite their fragmentary nature, each of these specimens can be assigned to Meiolaniidae with a high level of confidence. This is particularly true of the partial caudal ring, which is strongly similar to those of Niolamia, Ninjemys and Meiolania. The extension of the Australasian meiolaniid record to the Eocene lends strong support to the hypothesis that these turtles arose before South America and Australia detached from Antarctica, and that they were consequently able to spread across all three continents.