JOURNAL ARTICLE

Deep faunistic turnovers preceded the rise of dinosaurs in southwestern Pangaea

Martín D Ezcurra, Lucas E Fiorelli, Agustín G Martinelli, Sebastián Rocher, M Belén von Baczko, Miguel Ezpeleta, Jeremías R A Taborda, E Martín Hechenleitner, M Jimena Trotteyn, Julia B Desojo
Nature Ecology & Evolution 2017, 1 (10): 1477-1483
29185518
The Triassic period documents the origin and diversification of modern amniote lineages and the Late Triassic fossil record of South America has been crucial to shed light on these early evolutionary histories. However, the faunistic changes that led to the establishment of Late Triassic ecosystems are largely ignored because of the global scarcity of fossils from assemblages a few million years older. Here we contribute to fill this gap with the description of a new tetrapod assemblage from the lowermost levels of the Chañares Formation (uppermost Middle-lower Late Triassic epochs) of Argentina, which is older than the other vertebrate assemblages of the same basin. The new assemblage is composed of therapsids, rhynchosaurids and archosaurs, and clearly differs from that of the immediately overlying and well-known historical Chañares vertebrate assemblage. The new tetrapod association is part of a phase of relatively rapidly changing vertebrate assemblage compositions, in a time span shorter than 6 million years, before the diversification of dinosaurs and other common Late Triassic tetrapods in southwestern Pangaea.

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