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Salt Lake City, UT, United States

Irmis R.B.,Utah Museum of Natural History | Irmis R.B.,University of Utah | Whiteside J.H.,Brown University
Proceedings of the Royal Society B: Biological Sciences | Year: 2012

During the end-Permian mass extinction, marine ecosystems suffered a major drop in diversity, which was maintained throughout the Early Triassic until delayed recovery during the Middle Triassic. This depressed diversity in the Early Triassic correlates with multiple major perturbations to the global carbon cycle, interpreted as either intrinsic ecosystem or external palaeoenvironmental effects. In contrast, the terrestrial record of extinction and recovery is less clear; the effects and magnitude of the end-Permian extinction on non-marine vertebrates are particularly controversial. We use specimenlevel data from southern Africa and Russia to investigate the palaeodiversity dynamics of non-marine tetrapods across the Permo-Triassic boundary by analysing sample-standardized generic richness, evenness and relative abundance. In addition, we investigate the potential effects of sampling, geological and taxonomic biases on these data. Our analyses demonstrate that non-marine tetrapods were severely affected by the end-Permian mass extinction, and that these assemblages did not begin to recover until the Middle Triassic. These data are congruent with those from land plants and marine invertebrates. Furthermore, they are consistent with the idea that unstable low-diversity post-extinction ecosystems were subject to boom-bust cycles, reflected in multiple Early Triassic perturbations of the carbon cycle. © 2011 The Royal Society.

Sertich J.J.W.,State University of New York at Stony Brook | Loewen M.A.,Utah Museum of Natural History
PLoS ONE | Year: 2010

Background: Basal sauropodomorphs, or 'prosauropods,' are a globally widespread paraphyletic assemblage of terrestrial herbivorous dinosaurs from the Late Triassic and Early Jurassic. In contrast to several other landmasses, the North American record of sauropodomorphs during this time interval remains sparse, limited to Early Jurassic occurrences of a single wellknown taxon from eastern North America and several fragmentary specimens from western North America. Methodology/Principal Findings: On the basis of a partial skeleton, we describe here a new basal sauropodomorph dinosaur from the Lower Jurassic Navajo Sandstone of southern Utah, Seitaad ruessi gen. et sp. nov. The partially articulated skeleton of Seitaad was likely buried post-mortem in the base of a collapsed dune foreset. The new taxon is characterized by a plate-like medial process of the scapula, a prominent proximal expansion of the deltopectoral crest of the humerus, a strongly inclined distal articular surface of the radius, and a proximally and laterally hypertrophied proximal metacarpal I. Conclusions/Significance: Phylogenetic analysis recovers Seitaad as a derived basal sauropodomorph closely related to plateosaurid or massospondylid 'prosauropods' and its presence in western North America is not unexpected for a member of this highly cosmopolitan clade. This occurrence represents one of the most complete vertebrate body fossil specimens yet recovered from the Navajo Sandstone and one of the few basal sauropodomorph taxa currently known from North America. © 2010 Sertich, Loewen.

Gates T.A.,Utah Museum of Natural History | Horner J.R.,Museum of the Rockies | Hanna R.R.,Terra Paleo Research | Nelson C.R.,Brigham Young University
Journal of Vertebrate Paleontology | Year: 2011

A new hadrosaurid dinosaur, Acristavus gagslarsoni, is here named on the basis of several autapomorphic characteristics of the frontal, postorbital, and dentary. Acristavus is a member of the newly erected clade Brachylophosaurini, which along with its other members, Brachylophosaurus and Maiasaura, constitutes the earliest hadrosaurine hadrosaurid clade. The new taxon occurred approximately 79 million years ago and has been recovered from the Two Medicine Formation of western Montana and nearly simultaneously in the Wahweap Formation of southern Utah. Corresponding with its age and relationship to the other members of the Brachylophosaurini, it is not surprising that Acristavus possesses traits seen in both Brachylophosaurus and Maiasaura, but not necessarily shared between them. One of the most interesting morphological features of Acristavus is the lack of cranial osteological ornamentation, which is in stark contrast to every other hadrosaurid dinosaur except Edmontosaurus. Combining stratigraphic and phylogenetic data from Acristavus yields support for the hypothesis that the hadrosaurid ancestor did not possess cranial ornamentation, and that the subfamilies Hadrosaurinae and Lambeosaurinae each independently developed display structures. © 2011 by the Society of Vertebrate Paleontology.

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