Edaphosauridae (Synapsida, Eupelycosauria) from Europe and their relationship to North American representatives


A recent discovery from the Carboniferous–Permian transition of the southwest German Saar–Nahe Basin has revealed a medium-sized edaphosaurid skeleton. It is described as Remigiomontanus robustus gen. et sp. nov. Apart from a largely complete dorsal column, showing the typical hyper-elongated spines with lateral tuberculation, few other elements are preserved. Although lacking certain autapomorphies, the unique character combination of this new form strongly suggests an intermediate position between Ianthasaurus and Edaphosaurus. This study presents a revision of the complete European material of Edaphosauridae, counting the newly named genus Bohemiclavulus (type species Naosaurus mirabilis Fritsch, 1895), and a confirmation that Edaphosaurus credneri is an indeterminate juvenile of this most derived genus. Further fragments include a second young juvenile from the Döhlen Basin, east Germany, the lost spine set of Ramodondron from Boskovice Basin, Czech Republic, and a poorly preserved specimen from Autun, France, for which its hitherto parareptilian classification is debated. A renewed dataset is used to carry out a phylogenetic analysis. Exhaustive comparisons allow for a deeper understanding of back sail characters, which on the other hand hamper a phylogenetic resolution for both European and North American taxa. Previously reconstructed faunal provinces of edaphosaurid distribution are not evident from the present knowledge.

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Thanks go to L. Rinehart (Albuquerque), T. Bach (Thallichtenberg), and R. Weißmann (Odernheim am Glan) for preparing the new edaphosaurid specimen form Germany, B. Ekrt (Prague) for scanning a Czech edaphosaurid vertebra, V. Annacker (Chemnitz) for technical support regarding scans, and S. Stamberg (Hradec Králové) for generously providing/translating literature and fruitful discussions. Special thanks go further to A. Henrici (Pittsburgh) for allowing work at the Pittsburgh collection, D. Berman (Pittsburgh) for providing new observations on E. colohistion, R. Reisz (Toronto) for sharing valuable information on fragmentary remains, and S.G. Lucas (Albuquerque) for sharing unpublished data on Gordodon from New Mexico. We appreciate careful and constructive reviews of Adam Huttenlocker and Neil Brocklehurst.

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Correspondence to Frederik Spindler.

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Handling Editor: Jörg Fröbisch.

Electronic supplementary material

Below is the link to the electronic supplementary material.

Online Resource 1: CT-scan movie through NM 633, holotype of Bohemiclavulus mirabilis (Fritsch, 1895), courtesy of Boris Ekrt (Prague) and Volker Annacker (Chemnitz); dorsal plane aspect moving from spine base to ventral line of centrum. (WMV 27990 kb)

Online Resource 1: CT-scan movie through NM 633, holotype of Bohemiclavulus mirabilis (Fritsch, 1895), courtesy of Boris Ekrt (Prague) and Volker Annacker (Chemnitz); dorsal plane aspect moving from spine base to ventral line of centrum. (WMV 27990 kb)

Online Resource 2: Photograph of UGKU 1997, holotype of Remigiomontanus robustus gen. et sp. nov. (TIFF 28290 kb)

Online Resource 3: Overview of edaphosaurid spine morphology. (XLSX 15 kb)

Online Resource 4: Character list for the phylogenetic analysis of Edaphosauridae. (DOCX 70 kb)

Online Resource 5: Renewed character coding for Edaphosauridae. (XLSX 237 kb)

Online Resource 6: Data set (nexus file) for the phylogenetic analysis of Edaphosauridae. (NEX 7 kb)

Online Resource 7: Iterative tree tests for Edaphosauridae. (DOCX 27 kb)

Online Resource 8: Additional results on North American edaphosaurids. (DOCX 23 kb)

Online Resource 9: Size comparison of small edaphosaurid specimens from Europe and North America (EPS 20083 kb)

Supplementary material 10 (PDF 5523 kb)

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Spindler, F., Voigt, S. & Fischer, J. Edaphosauridae (Synapsida, Eupelycosauria) from Europe and their relationship to North American representatives. PalZ (2019) doi:10.1007/s12542-019-00453-2

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  • Sphenacomorpha
  • Herbivory
  • Back sail
  • Tuberculation
  • Paleobiogeography