A juvenile coelophysoid skull from the Early Jurassic of Zimbabwe, and the synonymy of Coelophysis and Syntarsus
Raath, Michael A.
BERNARD PRICE INSTITUTE FOR PALAEONTOLOGICAL RESEARCH
Several authors have drawn attention to the close similarities between the neotheropod dinosaurs Coelophysis and Syntarsus. Reconstruction and analysis of a skull from a juvenile specimen of Syntarsus (collected from the Forest Sandstone Formation of Zimbabwe) show that cranial characters previously used to distinguish these taxa and justify their generic separation (namely the presence of a ‘nasal fenestra’ in Syntarsus and the length of its antorbital fenestra), were based on erroneous reconstructions of disassociated cranial elements. On the basis of this reinterpretation we conclude that Syntarsus is a junior synonym of Coelophysis. Variations are noted in three cranial characters – the length of the maxillary tooth row, the width of the base of the lachrymal and the shape of the antorbital maxillary fossa – that taken together with the chronological and geographical separation of the two taxa justify separation at species level.