Convergent evolution of a eusuchian-type secondary palate within Shartegosuchidae. (American Museum novitates, no. 3901)

Shartegosuchids are a poorly known, early-branching group of Asian and North American crocodylomorphs. Shartegosuchids have been hypothesized to have eusuchian-type secondary palates, but a paucity of described material makes assessing this difficult. Our fieldwork in western Mongolia recovered cranial material of a new Shartegosuchus specimen from the Ulan Malgait Formation, which we CT-scanned and digitally reconstructed to investigate its palatal morphology. We then incorporated this new anatomical information into a revised phylogenetic dataset to assess its affinities. Our study confirms that Shartegosuchus has a posteriorly placed choana that is fully enclosed by the pterygoids, but differs from Eusuchia in possessing a secondary palatal fenestra and reduced palatine bones. Shartegosuchus, together with Adzhosuchus, Fruitachampsa, and Nominosuchus, forms the monophyletic group Shartegosuchidae. Shartegosuchidae is nested within a larger clade Shartegosuchoidea, and this clade is an earlier-diverging lineage than Eusuchia, showing that a eusuchian-type secondary palate evolved multiple times in crocodylomorphs, including very early in the group's evolutionary history. The co-occurrence of Nominosuchus in the Ulan Malgait Formation and the Shishigou Formation allows us to assign an early Oxfordian age to Shartegosuchus. The independent evolution of a eusuchian-type secondary palate in an oreinorostral group suggests that the link between platyrostry and a closed secondary palate has been overstated.
23 pages : illustrations (some color), color map ; 26 cm.
Shartegosuchus asperopalatum., Palate., Nasal fossa., Convergence (Biology), Shartegosuchidae., Shartegosuchoidea., Phylogeny., Crocodylomorpha., Crocodilians., Govʹ-Altaĭ Aĭmag (Mongolia), Mongolia.