The systematic position of the enigmatic thyreophoran dinosaur Paranthodon africanus , and the use of basal exemplifiers in phylogenetic analysis
Raven & Maidment 2018 Parantho ...
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AbstractThe first African dinosaur to be discovered, Paranthodon africanus was found in 1845 in the Lower Cretaceous of South Africa. Taxonomically assigned to numerous groups since discovery, in 1981 it was described as a stegosaur, a group of armoured ornithischian dinosaurs characterised by bizarre plates and spines extending from the neck to the tail. This assignment has been subsequently accepted. The type material consists of a premaxilla, maxilla, a nasal, and a vertebra, and contains no synapomorphies of Stegosauria. Several features of the maxilla and dentition are reminiscent of Ankylosauria, the sister-taxon to Stegosauria, and the premaxilla appears superficially similar to that of some ornithopods. The vertebral material has never been described, and since the last description of the specimen, there have been numerous discoveries of thyreophoran material potentially pertinent to establishing the taxonomic assignment of the specimen. An investigation of the taxonomic and systematic position of Paranthodon is therefore warranted. This study provides a detailed re-description, including the first description of the vertebra. Numerous phylogenetic analyses demonstrate that the systematic position of Paranthodon is highly labile and subject to change depending on which exemplifier for the clade Stegosauria is used. The results indicate that the use of a basal exemplifier may not result in the correct phylogenetic position of a taxon being recovered if the taxon displays character states more derived than those of the basal exemplifier, and we recommend the use, minimally, of one basal and one derived exemplifier per clade. Paranthodon is most robustly recovered as a stegosaur in our analyses, meaning it is one of the youngest and southernmost stegosaurs.
CitationRaven TJ, Maidment SCR. 2018. The systematic position of the enigmatic thyreophoran dinosaur Paranthodon africanus, and the use of basal exemplifiers in phylogenetic analysis. PeerJ 6:e4529 https://doi.org/10.7717/peerj.4529
Item Description© 2018 Raven and Maidment. This is an open access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, reproduction and adaptation in any medium and for any purpose provided that it is properly attributed. For attribution, the original author(s), title, publication source (PeerJ) and either DOI or URL of the article must be cited. The attached file is the published version of the article.