The Cranial Morphology of Kayentachelys, an Early Jurassic Cryptodire, and the Early History of Turtles
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Gaffney, Eugene S.
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CitationGaffney, Eugene S., and Farish A. Jenkins. 2010. The cranial morphology of Kayentachelys, an early jurassic cryptodire, and the early history of turtles. Acta Zoologica 91(3): 335–368.
AbstractThe skull morphology of Kayentachelys aprix Gaffney et al., 1987, a turtle from the Early Jurassic Kayenta Fm of northern Arizona, demonstrates the presence of cryptodiran synapomorphies in agreement with Gaffney et al. (1987, 1991, 2007), and contrary to the conclusions of Sterli and Joyce (2007), Joyce (2007), Sterli (2008), and Anquetin et al. (2008). Specific characters found in Kayentachelys and diagnostic of cryptodires include the processus trochlearis oticum,
the curved processus pterygoideus externus with a vertical plate, and the prefrontal–vomer contact, which are confirmed as absent in the outgroups, specifically the Late Triassic Proganochelys. The Joyce (2007) analysis suffers from the reduction of the signal from skull characters, with a consequently greater reliance on shell characters, resulting in pleurodires being resolved at various positions within the cryptodires. Kayentachelys reveals what a primitive cryptodire would be expected to look like: a combination of primitive and derived characters, with the fewer derived characters providing the best test of its relationships to other turtles. Although incompletely known, the Mid-Late Jurassic Condorchelys, Heckeremys, and Eileanchelys may be early cryptodires close to Kayentachelys. We confirm the Late Triassic Proterochersis as a pleurodire, dating the pleurodire–cryptodire split as Late Triassic or earlier.
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