Late Permian terrestrial faunal connections invigorated: the first whaitsioid therocephalian from China

Liu, Jun
Abdala, Fernando
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The record of therocephalian therapsids from the late Permian of China has recently been greatly expanded by the discovery of several new taxa of Akidnognathidae, a group previously known principally from South Africa and Russia. Continuing this string of discoveries, we present here the first Chinese record of a whaitsiid therocephalian. This is also the first record published of a tetrapod from Jingtai, Gansu, a late Permian locality that also yields remains of other groups such as dicynodonts, captorhinids, and chroniosuchians. This is the third taxon of whaitsiid therocephalian recognized in North Pangea. The new therocephalian is similar to the Russian Moschowhaitsia vjuschkovi in overall appearance, and although they are only recovered as sister-taxa in 6 out of 30 most parsimonious trees in our phylogenetic analysis, it is tentatively referred to Moschowhaitsia as a new species,M. lidaqingi. The phylogeny obtained is largely similar to previous hypotheses, recovering three main lineages of Eutherocephalia: Akidnognathidae, Whaitsioidea and Baurioidea. However, it differs from previous analyses in finding Chthonosauridae (comprising the Russian Chthonosaurus and Zambian Ichibengops) to be deeply nested within Whaitsioidea. Therocephalians were among the largest carnivores in the late Permian of North China, and may have represented the top predators in some faunas.