Vlad A. Codrea, Márton Venczel & Alexandru Solomon (2017)
A new family of teiioid lizards from the Upper Cretaceous of Romania with notes on the evolutionary history of early teiioids.
Zoological Journal of the Linnean Society (advance online publication)
Abundant isolated bones of fossil lizards from the uppermost Cretaceous (Maastrichtian) continental deposits of western Romania point to a previously unexpected squamate diversity in the so-called Hațeg Island. Using previously reported and recently collected material, we define here a new family of teiioid lizards. In addition, new specimens recovered from the locality of Oarda de Jos (uppermost Cretaceous, Maastrichtian) in the southwestern Transylvanian Basin, Romania, representing isolated cranial bones of small- to medium-sized lizards, are described as Oardasaurus glyphis gen. et sp. nov. and assigned to this new family of lizards. Based on its distinctive holotype parietal, O. glyphis appears closely allied to the large-sized teiioid Barbatteius vremiri Venczel & Codrea, 2016, suggesting a rapid diversification of that clade following the insular colonization. Currently, this lizard group is documented from the Transylvanian Landmass only, being derived likely from a Gondwanan stock of teiioid lizards that reached cratonic Europe across the Mediterranean Sill in the Early Cretaceous. In the latest Cretaceous (Maastrichtian), when reaching ‘Hațeg Island’, the group underwent an adaptive radiation but apparently did not survive the K/Pg extinction event.