Published on April 12th, 2017 | by Liz Martin-Silverstone


Episode 74: Early Archosaurs and Teleocrater

We have a pretty good idea about how different dinosaur groups evolved, and how they are related (although anyone who has been following the recent dinosaur relationship shake-up knows this is not quite as clear as previously thought), but we don’t have a good idea of how their ancestors, early dinosauromorphs and other early archosaurs, evolved. When did these groups first appear? What lead to their diversification?

In this episode, we speak with (recently promoted!) Professor Richard Butler from the University of Birmingham and Academic Keeper of the Lapworth Museum of Geology about the evolution of this group, and early archosaurs in general. We also discuss a new, important species from the Middle Triassic of Tanzania described today in Nature by Nesbitt, Butler, and colleagues called Teleocrater rhadinus.

Richard (top left) and former PhD students Roland Sookias (top right) and Martin Ezcurra (bottom right) collecting data on Permo-Triassic archosauromorphs in the collections of the Palaeontological Institute, Moscow. Photo R. Butler.

Field team in South Africa, 2014, hunting for early archosaurs in the Middle Triassic together with colleagues from the ESI, Johannesburg. L-R: Roland Sookias, Jonah Choiniere, Blair McPhee, Kathleen Dollmann, Martin Ezcurra, Richard Butler. Photo R. Butler.

Skeletal reconstruction of Teleocrater rhadinus, an early bird-line archosaur from the early Middle Triassic of Tanzania. From Nesbitt, Butler et al. (2017). Image credit Scott Hartman.

Phylogenetic relationships of early archosaurs (a), with estimated morphological diversity (disparity) for crocodile- and bird-line archosaurs (b) and Triassic distribution of key groups of early bird-line archosaurs (c-g). From Nesbitt, Butler et al. (2017).

Life reconstruction of Teleocrater rhadinus by Mark Witton.

Life reconstruction by Mark Witton of the erythrosuchid archosauromorph Garjainia madiba, named by Prof. Butler’s research team on the basis of fossils from the latest Early Triassic of South Africa. From Gower et al. (2014).

Photographs and restorations of the holotype skull of Teyujagua paradoxa, an early archosauromorph from the Early Triassic of Brazil, named by several researchers from Brazil and Richard Butler in 2016. From Pinheiro et al. (2016).

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