Published on October 5th, 2022 | by Liz Martin-Silverstone


Episode 145: Scleromochlus

Scleromochlus is an animal that has been known for over 100 years, and has been frequently suggested as being an ancestor to pterosaurs. It hails from the Late Triassic of Scotland, and there are fewer than 10 specimens known. Unfortunately the preservation of this small reptile means that it is very difficult to interpret. However, thanks to the wonders of modern technology and CT scanning, new evidence from Scleromochlus reveals new anatomical insights, and further supports Scleromochlus as a lagerpetid, the group most closely related to pterosaurs.

In this episode we discuss these new discoveries with the lead author of the study Dr Davide Foffa who is currently a postdoctoral fellow at Virginia Tech, though this work was part of his previous position at the National Museum of Scotland (NMS). This is part of a larger project looking at the Late Triassic ‘Elgin Fauna’ along with collaborators Richard Butler (University of Birmingham), Stig Walsh and Nick Fraser (NMS), Steve Brusatte (University of Edinburgh) and Paul Barrett (Natural History Museum, London).

This is based on this new paper: Foffa D, Dunne EM, Nesbitt SJ, Butler RJ, Fraser NC, Brusatte SL, Farnsworth A, Lunt DJ, Valdes PJ, Walsh S, and PM Barrett. 2022. Scleromochlus and the early evolution of Pterosauromorpha. Nature.

NHMUK PV R3146 – A specimen of Scleromochlus taylori. Image from Paul Barrett.
Casts of NHMUK PV R3557, a specimen of Scleromochlus taylori.
Newly revealed anatomical features of Newly revealed anatomical features of Scleromochlus taylori. Figure 1 from Foffa et al. 2022.
Time-calibrated strict consensus tree focused on Pterosauromorpha and 422 different positions of Scleromochlus taylori based upon interpretations of the 423 phylogenetic scores for the ankle. Figure 3 from Foffa et al. 2022.
Life reconstruction of Scleromochlus taylori by Gabriel Ugueto (© Gabriel Ugueto)
3D skeletal reconstructions of Scleromochlus taylori by Matt Humpage (© Northern Rogue Studios). You can access a 3D version of this on Sketchfab here.
Video showing the block and segmented elements of NHMUK PV R3557, a specimen of Scleromochlus taylori.

Tags: , , , , ,

Back to Top ↑