Swiss Journal of Geosciences

, Volume 106, Issue 2, pp 199–206 | Cite as

A new species of Macrocnemus from the Middle Triassic of the eastern Swiss Alps

  • Nicholas Fraser
  • Heinz Furrer


A new species of Macrocnemus is described on the basis of two incomplete specimens from the Lower Ladinian Prosanto Formation of southeastern Switzerland. The new form can be distinguished by its gracile limb elements and having a noticeably longer tibia than either Macrocnemus bassanii or Macrocnemus fuyuanensis. One of the new specimens exhibits soft part preservation in the region of the pelvic girdle. The hind part of this individual is preserved fully articulated and allows a complete count of the caudal vertebrae to be made for the first time with 52 caudals. It is postulated that this specimen was predated upon and that the anterior part of the animal was consumed by a large predator such as a nothosaurid reptile or the actinopterygian fish Saurichthys.


Protorosaur Europe Triassic Tethys 

Institutional abbreviations


Paläontologisches Institut und Museum, University of Zürich, Zürich, Switzerland


Institute of Vertebrate Palaeontology and Palaeoanthropology, Beijing, China


Geological Museum, Peking University, Beijing, China



We especially wish to acknowledge the contribution of Christian Obrist who meticulously collected and prepared the specimen. Figure 1 was drafted by Benjamin Jost (Zurich). The government of Canton Graubünden, and the Bündner Naturmuseum in Chur allowed the excavations and gave financial support. Max Kuhn (Uster) provided generous support that enabled NCF to study the specimen with HF in Zurich. We are grateful to two anonymous referees for providing a number of suggestions that have helped to improve the paper.


  1. Bürgin, T., Eichenberger, U., Furrer, H., & Tschanz, K. (1991). Die Prosanto-Formation—eine fischreiche Fossil-Lagerstätte in der Mitteltrias der Silvretta-Decke (Kanton Graubünden, Schweiz). Eclogae Geologicae Helvetiae, 84, 921–990.Google Scholar
  2. Fraser, N. C., & Rieppel, O. (2006). A new protorosaur (Diapsida) from the Upper Buntsandstein of the Black Forest, Germany. Journal of Vertebrate Paleontology, 26, 866–871.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  3. Furrer, H. (1995). The Prosanto Formation, a marine Middle Triassic Fossil-Lagerstätte near Davos (Canton Graubünden, eastern Swiss Alps). Eclogae Geologicae Helvetiae, 88, 681–683.Google Scholar
  4. Furrer, H. (2009). So kam der Fisch auf den Berg—Eine Broschüre über die Fossilfunde am Ducan. Bündner Naturmuseum Chur und Paläontologisches Institut und Museum, 2. aktualisierte Auflage (p. 32).Google Scholar
  5. Furrer, H., Eichenberger, U., Froitzheim, U., & Wurster, D. (1992). Geologie, Stratigraphie und Fossilien der Ducankette und des Landwassergebiets (Silvretta-Decke, Ostalpin). Eclogae Geologicae Helvetiae, 85, 245–256.Google Scholar
  6. Furrer, H., Schaltegger, U., Ovtcharova, M., & Meister, P. (2008). U-Pb zircon age of volcanic layers in Middle Triassic platform carbonates of the Austroalpine Silvretta Nappe (Switzerland). Swiss Journal of Geosciences, 101, 595–603.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  7. Grauvogel-Stamm, L., Meyer-Berthaud, B., & Vozenin-Serra, C. (2003). Conifer axes from the Middle Triassic of Switzerland: structure and affinities. Courier Forschungsinstitut Senckenberg, 241, 51–67.Google Scholar
  8. Huxley, T. H. (1871). A manual of the anatomy of the vertebrated animals. London: J&A Churchill.Google Scholar
  9. Jiang, D. -Y., Rieppel, O., Fraser, N. C., Motani, R., Hao, W. -C., Tintori, A., Sun, Y. -L., & Sun, Z. -Y. (2011). Skeletal anatomy of Macrocnemus fuyuanensis Li et al., 2007, based on a new specimen from the latest Ladinian/earliest Carnian of the Middle/Late Triassic of Southwestern China. Journal of Vertebrate Paleontology, 31, 1230–1237.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  10. Kuhn-Schnyder, E. (1962). Ein weiterer Schädel von Macrocnemus bassani Nopcsa aus der anisischen Stufe der Trias des Monte San Giorgio (Kt. Tessin, Schweiz). Paläontologische Zeitschrift, 36, 110–133. (Schmidt Festband).CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  11. Li, C., Zhao, L., & Wang, L. (2007). A new species of Macrocnemus (Reptilia: Protorosauria) from the Middle Triassic of southwestern China and its palaeogeographic implication. Science in China, Series D: Earth Sciences, 50, 1601–1605.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  12. Mundil, R., Pálfy, J., Renne, P. R., & Brack, P. (2010). The Triassic timescale: new constraints and a review of geochronological data. In S. G. Lucas (Ed.), The Triassic Timescale (Vol. 334, pp. 41–60). London: Geological Society, Special Publications.Google Scholar
  13. Nopcsa, F. (1930). Notizen über Macrochemus Bassanii nov. gen. et spec. Centralblatt fur Mineralogie, Geologie und Paläontologie B, 1930, 252–255.Google Scholar
  14. Peyer, B. (1937). Die Triasfauna der Tessiner Kalkalpen. XII. Macrocnemus bassanii Nopcsa. Abhandlungen der Schweizerischen Paläontologischen Gesellschaft, 59, 1–140.Google Scholar
  15. Renesto, S. (1994). A new prolacertiform reptile from the Late Triassic of northern Italy. Rivista di Paleontologia e Stratigrafia, 100, 285–306.Google Scholar
  16. Renesto, S., & Avanzini, M. (2002). Skin remains in a juvenile Macrocnemus bassanii Nopcsa (Reptilia, Prolacertiformes) from the Middle Triassic of northern Italy. Neues Jahrbuch für Geologie und Paläontologie Abhandlungen, 224, 31–48.Google Scholar
  17. Rieppel, O. (1989). The hind limb of Macrocnemus bassanii Nopcsa (Reptilia: Prolacertiformes): development and functional anatomy. Journal of Vertebrate Paleontology, Lawrence, Kansas, 9, 373–387.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  18. Rieppel, O., & Gronowski, R. W. (1981). The loss of the lower temporal arcade in diapsid reptiles. Zoological Journal of the Linnean Society, London, 72, 203–217.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  19. Saller, F., Renesto, S., & Dalla Vecchia, F. M. (2013). First record of Langobardisaurus (Diapsida, Protorosauria) from the Norian (Late Triassic) of Austria, and a revision of the genus. Neues Jahrbuch für Geologie und Paläontologie, 268, 83–95. (Abhandlungen).CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  20. Scheyer, T. M., & Desojo, J. B. (2011). Palaeohistology and external microanatomy of rauisuchian osteoderms (Archosauria: Pseudosuchia). Palaeontology, 2011, 1–14.Google Scholar
  21. Stockar, R., Baumgartner, P., & Condon, D. (2012). Integrated Ladinian biochronostratigraphy and geochrononology of Monte San Giorgio (southern Alps, Switzerland). Swiss Journal of Geosciences, 105, 85–108.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  22. Wild, R. (1973). Die Triasfauna der Tessiner Kalkalpen. XXIII. Tanystropheus longobardicus (Bassani) (Neue Ergebnisse). Abhandlungen der Schweizerischen Paläontologischen Gesellschaft, 95, 1–162.Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Swiss Geological Society 2013

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.National Museums ScotlandEdinburghUK
  2. 2.Paläontologisches Institut und Museum der Universität ZürichZürichSwitzerland

Personalised recommendations