The role of the forelimb in prey capture in the Late Triassic reptile Megalancosaurus (Diapsida, Drepanosauromorpha)
Castiello et al
The pectoral girdle and forelimb of the Late Triassic drepanosauromorph reptile Megalancosaurus are redescribed and their function reinterpreted. The whole skeleton of this diapsid is highly specialised for arboreal life, and also the peculiarities of the shoulder girdle and forelimb were interpreted as adaptations for a limb-based locomotion using gap-bridging to move from one support to another, as in chameleons. Re-examination of the pectoral girdle and forelimb revealed the presence of clavicles fused into a furcula-like structure, a saddle-shaped glenoid and a tight connection between the radius and ulna that strengthened the forearm but hindered pronation and supination movements at that joint. The new information plus a reconstruction of the pectoral and forelimb musculature suggests that the forelimb was also specialised for grasping and raking in addition to climbing and thus prey capture may have been an important function for the forelimb. The new functional interpretation fits well with the overall body architecture of Megalancosaurus’ skeleton, suggesting that this reptile was an ambush predator that may have assumed a stable tripodal position, secured by the hooked tail and hind limbs, freeing its forelimbs to catch prey by sudden extension of the arm and firm grasping with the pincer-like digits.