Dawazisaurus Brevis, A New Eosauropterygian From the Middle Triassic of Yunnan, China
Chen et al
Dawazisaurus brevis (gen. et sp. nov.) is a newly discovered Triassic marine reptile, represented by a complete skeleton from Member II of the Guanling Formation of Luoping, Yunnan Province, China. This paper aims to (1) present a thorough description of the species, (2) make a detailed comparison to demonstrate if the species can be referred to any known sauropterygian taxa, and (3) conduct phylogenetic analyses to establish the internal relationships of the species with other sauropterygians. In addition, the discovery of Dawazisaurus provides a chance not only to test the phylogenetic patterns of the Sauropterygia obtained by previous studies but also to evaluate the previous hypotheses on the origin of the sauropterygian groups at different levels. D. brevis is an eosauropterygian, characterized by a unique combination of derived features such as a pair of large nasals joining in the formation of the internarial septum, a short trunk with 16 dorsal vertebrae; the zygapophyses of the trunk vertebrae very small or weakly developed; the posterior margin of the skull roof deeply V-shaped, and an ossified distal carpal 5. Phylogenetic analysis indicates that D. brevis appears to be more closely related to the Nothosauroidea than the Pistosauroidea within the Eosauropterygia.