Postcranial remains of Teraterpeton hrynewichorum (Reptilia: Archosauromorpha) and the mosaic evolution of the saurian postcranial skeleton
Teraterpeton hrynewichorum is an unusual archosauromorph reptile from the Upper Triassic (Carnian) Evangeline Member of the Wolfville Formation in Nova Scotia (Canada). Its long snout has transversely broad, cusped ‘molariform’ teeth posteriorly and lacks teeth anteriorly. The temporal region of the cranium is ‘euryapsid’ with large upper and closed lower temporal fenestrae. A previously undescribed specimen referable to Teraterpeton includes a nearly complete pelvic girdle and both hind limbs. The ilium has a long, dorsoventrally deep anterior process similar to that of derived rhynchosaurs. The pelvis has a well-developed thyroid fenestra, a feature shared only by Tanystropheidae among Archosauromorpha. Metatarsal V is proximodistally short, resembling the condition in Tanystropheidae. The pedal unguals of Teraterpeton are strongly flattened mediolaterally, dorsoventrally deep and weakly curved, much like the manual unguals. We performed a phylogenetic analysis of a matrix comprising 61 taxa of Permo-Triassic diapsid reptiles and 337 characters, which supports the position of Teraterpeton as the sister-taxon of Trilophosaurus + Spinosuchus. In the current phylogeny, parsimony-based character optimization of the aforementioned character-states in Teraterpeton indicate that all were acquired independently from other saurian lineages. The unusual combination of postcranial features in Teraterpeton underscores the critical importance of comprehensive taxon sampling for understanding the mode of character change among Triassic diapsid reptiles and careful apomorphy-based identifications to faunal analyses.