Volume 42 May 2007

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    Palaeontologia africana Volume 42
    (Bernard Price Institute for Palaeontological Research, 2007)
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    Description of an anomalous tortoise (Reptilia: Testudinidae) from the Early Holocene of Zimbabwe
    An anomalous subfossil tortoise is described from a Holocene cave deposit at Pomongwe in the Matobo Hills, southwest Zimbabwe (Carbon 14 date 9400 ±100 yrs BP). This specimen appears to be unique in its truncated and depressed anterior carapace with loss of the normal second peripheral, but agrees with Kinixys Bell and Impregnochelys Meylan & Auffenberg in having numerous auxiliary scales. It may lack the carapacial hinge of Kinixys. The epiplastron appears most similar to that of a female Chersina angulata Gray.
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    The postcranial skeletal anatomy of the therocephalian Regisaurus (Therapsida: Regisauridae) and its utilization for biostratigraphic correlation
    The postcranial morphology of the therocephalian genus Regisaurus from the Lystrosaurus Assemblage Zone of South Africa is described. The remarkably complete state of preservation of the vertebral column has, for the first time, provided a full vertebral count for a therocephalian and demonstrates that it is possible to differentiate between cervical, thoracic, lumbar, sacral and caudal vertebrae. It is demonstrated that some postcranial elements can be used to identify particular therocephalian groups and will be of use in biostratigraphic studies in areas where cranial remains have not been found. A slender scapula, low scapular ridge, shallow scapular depression, short and broad interclavicle, oval sternum, and a small obturator foramen are characteristics of therocephalians known from the Cistecephalus, Dicynodon and Lystrosaurus assemblage zones of the Beaufort Group of South Africa.
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    A sabre-tooth felid from Coopers Cave (Gauteng, South Africa) and its implications for Megantereon (Felidae: Machairodontinae) taxonomy
    (BERNARD PRICE INSTITUTE FOR PALAEONTOLOGICAL RESEARCH, 2007) Hartstone-Rose, Adam; De Ruiter, Darryl J.; Berger, Lee R.; Churchill, Steven E.
    Metrical and morphological analysis of a new sabre-tooth felid mandible recovered from the Plio-Pleistocene hominid-bearing site of Coopers, South Africa, indicates that it can be assigned to the genus Megantereon, though it is by some measures the smallest individual of this taxon yet described. Comparison of morphological variability within this genus to that found within four extant, medium-sized felid species (Acinonyx jubatus, Neofelis nebulosa, Panthera pardus and P. uncia) and the extinct genus Smilodon (sister taxon of Megantereon) provides confirmation of the suggestion by Martínez-Navarro&Palmqvist (1995, 1996) that Megantereon is a geographically polymorphic genus comprised of at least two species: M. cultridens (Cuvier, 1824) of North America and Europe and M. whitei (Broom, 1937) of Africa and Europe.
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    A non-mammaliaform cynodont from the Upper Triassic of South Africa: a therapsid Lazarus taxon?
    (BERNARD PRICE INSTITUTE FOR PALAEONTOLOGICAL RESEARCH, 2007) Abdala, Fernando; Damiani, Ross; Yates, Adam; Neveling, Johann
    The tetrapod record of the ‘Stormberg Group’, including the Lower Elliot Formation, in the South African Karoo is widely dominated by archosaurian reptiles, contrasting with the therapsid dominion of the subjacent Beaufort Group. The only therapsids represented by skeletal remains in the Upper Triassic Lower Elliot Formation are the large traversodontid cynodont Scalenodontoides macrodontes and the recently described tritheledontid cynodont Elliotherium kersteni. Here we present a fragmentary lower jaw that provides evidence of a third type of cynodont for the Upper Triassic of South Africa. The fossil is tentatively assigned to the Diademodontidae. The latter representative of this family is known from the Late Anisian, and its tentative record in the Norian Lower Elliot Formation, if confirmed, will represent a case of Lazarus taxon. Thus, Diademodontidae apparently disappeared from the fossil record by the end of the Anisian and then reappeared in the Norian of South Africa, a stratigraphic interval of some 21 million years. This new cynodont record, together with the recently described Tritheledontidae, show that cynodonts are now the second most diverse tetrapod group in the Lower Elliot fauna.