New Sharovipteryx-like glider from Poland

The early evolution of Archosauromorpha, a large clade containing a wide variety of organisms, including dinosaurs (incl. birds), pterosaurs, crocodiles, and possibly also turtles, is currently among the most intensively studied segments of the vertebrate evolutionary tree. However, the very same segment is also one of the most problematic because it was shaped by the events of the Permian-Triassic mass extinction, the greatest extinction event in the history of life, resulting – among others – in the appearance of numerous evolutionary novelties and experiments.

One of such “experiments” was described in a new paper by Jerzy Dzik and Tomasz Sulej. The new animal was named Ozimek volans and, according to the authors, it was a close relative of the enigmatic Middle to Upper Triassic archosauromorph Sharovipteryx mirabilis.

As in S. mirabilis, Ozimek is hypothesized to have been a glider, with its limbs being accompanied by “flying” membranes. However, unlike Sharovipteryx, O. volans is known based on several reasonably complete specimens, enabling to assemble most of its skeleton.

Ozimek was discovered at the ~230 million-year-old strata (upper Carnian/lower Norian) of Krasiejów, Poland, that have yelded many important vertebrates, such as the early dinosauriform Silesaurus opolensis, the rauisuchid Polonosuchus silesiacus, the aetosaur Stagonolepis olenkae (?= S. robertsoni), the temnospondyls Metoposaurus krasiejowensis and Cyclotosaurus intermedius, and the phytosaur Parasuchus sp.

It was a possible insectivore, as suggested by its minute and sharp teeth.

Featured image © Krzysztof Stypułkowski.

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