Morphological evidence for bipedalism in the Late Triassic prolacertiform reptileLangobardisaurus

  • Silvio Renesto
  • Fabio M. Dalla Vecchia
  • David Peters
Functional and Ecological Morphology


Analysis of a newly discovered specimen of the Late Triassic prolacertiform reptileLangobardisaurus, along with further analyses of the postcranial skeletons of previously described specimens, suggests that a bipedal configuration without a parasagittal gait was possible during rapid locomotion, as previously suggested for the related genus,Macrocnemus, and also while standing and walking. Morphological evidence and size-related criteria are consistent with a facultative digitigrade configuration while standing erect. The elongation of the neck, a hallmark of the prolacertiforms, may have assisted these efforts, as inChlamydosaurus, an extant facultatively bipedal lizard with a convergent morphology. This hypothesis should yield new insights into the mode of life ofLangobardisaurus and other prolacertiform sister taxa.

Key words

Langobardisaurus prolacertiformes (reptilia) late Triassic functional morphology Bipedal stance skeletal correlates 


  1. Benton M. J. (1985): Classification and phylogeny of the diapsid reptiles. — Zool. Journ. Linn. Soc.84: 97–164; London.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  2. Benton M. J. &Allen, J. (1997):Boreopricea from the Lower Triassic of Russia and the relationships of the prolacertiform reptiles. — Palaeontology40: 931–953; London.Google Scholar
  3. Brinkman M D. (1981): The hind limb step cycle ofIguana and primitive reptiles. — Journ. Zool. Soc. London181: 91–103; London.Google Scholar
  4. Berman D. S., Reisz R. R., Scott D. Henrici A. C., Sumida S. S. &Martens T. (2000): Early Permian bipedal reptile — Science290: 969–972; Washington.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  5. Carrier, D., Heglund, N. &Earls, K. (1994): Variable gearing during locomotion in the human musculoskeletal system. — Science265: 651–653; Washington.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  6. Camp, C. L. (1945a):Prolacerta and the Protorosaurian reptiles. — part 1. American Journal of Sciences243: 17–32; New Haven.Google Scholar
  7. Dilkes, D. W. (1998): The Early triassic rhynchosaurMesosuchus browni and the interrelationships of basal archosauromorph reptiles. — Phil. Trans. Roy. Soc. London B.353: 501–541; London.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  8. Evans, S. E. (1980): The skull of a new eosuchian reptile from the Lower Jurassic of South Wales. — Zool Journ. Linn. Soc.70: 203–264; London.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  9. Evans, S. E. (1984): The classification of the Lepidosauria. — Zool. Journ. Linn. Soc.73: 81–116; London.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  10. Evans, S. E. (1988): The early history and the relationships of the Diapsida. — InBenton, M. J. [ed]: The Phylogeny and Classification of the Tetrapods,1: 221–260. Clarendon Press., Oxford.Google Scholar
  11. Fieler C. L. &Jayne B. (1998): Effects of speed on the hindlimb kinematics of the lizardDipsosaurus dorsalis. — Journ. Exp. Biol.201, 609–622, London.Google Scholar
  12. Gow, C. (1975): The morphology and relationships ofYoungina capensis Broom andProlacerta broomi Parrington. — Paleontologia Africana.18: 89–131; Cape Town.Google Scholar
  13. Hamley T. (1990): Functions of the tail in bipedal locomotion of lizards, dinosaurs and pterosaurs. — Mem. Qd. Mus28: 153–158 Brisbane.Google Scholar
  14. Irschick D. J. &Jayne B. C. (1999): Comparative three dimensional kinematics of the hindlimb for high speed bipedal and quadrupedal locomotion of lizards. — Journ. Exp. Biol.202: 1047–1065; London.Google Scholar
  15. Jadoul, F.,Masetti, D.,Cirilli, S.,Berra, F.,Claps, S. &Frisia, S. (1994): Norian-Rhaetian stratigraphy and palaeogeographic evolution of the Lombardy basin (Bergamasc Alps). — 15th IAS Regional Meeting, April 1994, Ischia, Italy, Field excursion, Excursion B1: 5–38, Naples.Google Scholar
  16. Jalil, N.-E. (1997): A new prolacertiform diapsid from the Triassic of North Africa and the interrelationships of the Prolacertiformes. — Journ. Vert. Paleont.17: 506–525.Google Scholar
  17. Muscio G. (1996): Preliminary note on a specimen of Prolacertiformes (Reptilia) from the Norian (Late Triassic) of Preone (Udine, North Eastern Italy). — Gortania18: 33–40.Google Scholar
  18. Nopcsa, F. Baron (1930): Notizen überMacrochemus bassanii nov., gen. et spec. — Centralbl., Min.1930: 252–255.Google Scholar
  19. Nopcsa, F. Baron (1931):Macrocnemus nichtMacrochemus. — Centralbl. Min.1931: 655–656.Google Scholar
  20. Olsen, P. E. (1979): A new aquatic eosuchian from the Newark Supergroup (Late Triassic — Early Jurassic) of North Carolina and Virginia. — Postilla,176: 1–14.Google Scholar
  21. Olsen, P.E. &Jonson, A.K. (1994): Field guide to Late Triassic tetrapod sites in Virginia and North Carolina. — InFraser, N.C. &Sues, H.D. [eds], in the Shadow of the dinosaurs, 408–430; Cambridge University press; Cambridge.Google Scholar
  22. Peabody F. E., (1948): Reptile and amphibian trackways from the Moenkopi Formation of Arizona, and Utah. — University. Of California Publications, Bulletin of the Department of Geological Sciences27: 325–340.Google Scholar
  23. Peters, D., (2000a): Description and Interpretation of Interphalangeal Lines in Tetrapods. Ichnos 7(1), 11–41.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  24. Peters, D. (2000b): A Redescription of Four Prolacertiform Genera and Implications for Pterosaur Phylogenesis. — Riv. It. Paleont. Strat.106: 293–336.Google Scholar
  25. Renesto, S. (1994): A new prolacertiform reptile from the Late Triassic of Northern Italy. — Riv. It. Paleont. Strat.100: 285–306.Google Scholar
  26. Renesto S. &Dalla Vecchia F. (2000): The unusual dentition and feeding habits of the prolacertiform reptileLangobardisaurus (late Triassic, Northern Italy). — Journ. Vert. Paleont.20 (3): 662–627.Google Scholar
  27. Rewcastle S. C. (1980): Form and function in lacertilian knee and mesotarsal joints; a contribution to the analysis of sprawling locomotion. — J. Zool. Lond.191: 147–170.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  28. Rieppel, O. (1989): The hind limb ofMacrocnemus bassani (Nopcsa) (Reptilia, Diapsida): development and functional anatomy. — Journ. Vert. Paleont.9:373–387.Google Scholar
  29. Roghi G., Mietto, P. &F. M. Dalla Vecchia (1995): Contribution to the conodont biostratigraphy of the Dolomia di Forni (Upper Triassic, Carnia, NE Italy). — Mem. Sci. Geol. Padova48: 125, 133.Google Scholar
  30. Russell A. P. &Bauer A. M (1992): The m. caudifemoralis longus and its relationships to caudal autotomy and locomotion in lizards (Reptilia, Sauria). — J. Zool. Lond.227: 127–143.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  31. Shine R &Lambeck R. (1989): The ecology of Frillneck Lizard,Chlamydosaurus kingii (Agamidae) in tropical Australia. — Aust. Wildl. Res.16: 491–500.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  32. Snyder R. C. (1954): The anatomy and function of the pelvic girdle and hind limb in lizard locomotion. — Am. Journ. Anat.95 (1): 1–137.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  33. Snyder R. C. (1962): Adaptations for bipedal locomotion of Lizards — Am. Zool.2:191–203.Google Scholar
  34. Wild, R. (1973): Die Triasfauna der Tessiner Kalkalpen XXIII.Tanystropheus longobardiscus Bassani (Neue Ergebnisse). — Abhandl. Schweiz. Paläont. Gesells.95: 1–162.Google Scholar

Copyright information

© E. Schweizerbart’sche Verlagsbuchhandlung 2002

Authors and Affiliations

  • Silvio Renesto
    • 1
  • Fabio M. Dalla Vecchia
    • 2
  • David Peters
    • 3
  1. 1.Dipartimento di Scienze della TerraUniversità degli StudiMilanoItaly
  2. 2.Museo Paleontologico CittadinoMonfalconeItaly
  3. 3.David Peters StudioSt LouisUSA

Personalised recommendations