A new taxon of phytosaur (Archosauria: Pseudosuchia) from the Late Triassic (Norian) Sonsela Member (Chinle Formation) in Arizona, and a critical reevaluation of Leptosuchus Case, 1922



    1. Present address: Department of Geological Sciences, Jackson School of Geosciences, The University of Texas at Austin, Austin, TX 78712, USA
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Abstract: Leptosuchus Case, 1922 (Reptilia: Phytosauria) from the Late Triassic of the American West is represented by many specimens. Here, I present complete morphological descriptions of the skull material of a new taxon from the Sonsela Member (Chinle Formation) of Petrified Forest National Park, Arizona, with the first rigorous phylogenetic analysis focused on the interrelationships of Leptosuchus. The new taxon is recovered as the sister taxon to Pseudopalatinae. It possesses one unambiguous synapomorphy (the ‘septomaxillae’ form part of the lateral borders of the nares) and shares the presence of a subsidiary opisthotic process with Pseudopalatinae. The new taxon does not fall within the restricted clade Leptosuchus. In my analysis, the previously proposed, but undemonstrated, sister taxon relationship between Angistorhinus and Rutiodon is not supported, Paleorhinus is recovered as paraphyletic, and a subset of taxa traditionally included within Leptosuchus are found to be more closely related to Pseudopalatinae, rendering Leptosuchus paraphyletic. ‘Leptosuchusadamanensis emerges as sister taxon to Smilosuchus gregorii and is here referred to as Smilosuchus adamanensis nov. comb., and ‘Machaeroprosopuslithodendrorum is also transferred to Smilosuchus lithodendrorum nov. comb. Documentation of the variation present within Phytosauria, and specifically within Leptosuchus sensu lato, demonstrates higher diversity within Phytosauria than previously appreciated and places the character states previously proposed for Pseudopalatinae into a broader context of shared characters.