Describing a New Cryptodont Dicynodont from the Permian of Tanzania
2013 REU Project:
Dicynodonts are an extinct group of ancient mammal relatives, and during the Permian and Triassic periods of Earth history they were the most diverse and abundant terrestrial vertebrate herbivores. The best fossil record of Permian dicynodonts comes from the Karoo Basin of South Africa, but recently I have conducted fieldwork with collaborators in the Permian rocks preserved in the Ruhuhu Basin of southwestern Tanzania.
Research methods and techniques: We will describe a new species of dicynodont from the Permian of Tanzania. The species is represented by the skull, jaw, and partial postcranial skeleton of a subadult individual, and a skull fragment of a second larger individual. We will describe the morphology of the specimen, compare it to other dicynodonts to firmly establish that it is a distinct species, discuss the reasons why the primary specimen seems to be a subadult, examine how it is related to other dicynodonts, and investigate its biogeographic implications. The project will provide the opportunity to learn about vertebrate anatomy and morphology-based taxonomic and phylogenetic methods.
Curator/Advisor: Dr. Kenneth D. Angielczyk (Assistant Curator of Paleomammalogy, Geology)