New material and revision of Melanorosaurus thabanensis, a basal sauropodomorph from the Upper Triassic of Lesotho

Claire Peyre de Fabr├Ęgues, Ronan Allain
PeerJ 2016, 4: e1639
Melanorosaurus is a genus of basal sauropodomorph that currently includes two species from Southern Africa. In this paper, we redescribe the holotype femur of Melanorosaurus thabanensis from the Elliot Formation of Lesotho, as well as associated remains. The stratigraphic position of this taxon is reviewed, and it is clear that it comes from the Lower Elliot Formation being, therefore, Late Triassic in age, and not Early Jurassic as originally described. The knowledge of the anatomy of the basal sauropodomorph of Thabana Morena is enhanced by the description of six new skeletal elements from the type locality. The femur and the ilium from Thabana Morena are diagnostic and characterized by unusual proportions. The first phylogenetic analysis including both this specimen and Melanorosaurus is conducted. This analysis leads to the conclusion that the femur described in the original publication of Melanorosaurus thabanensis can no longer be referred to Melanorosaurus. For these reasons, we hereby create Meroktenos gen. nov. to encompass Meroktenos thabanensis comb. nov.

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