A new paper in open access:
Simon W. Fraser-King, Julien Benoit, ÂMichael O. Day & Bruce S. Rubidge (2019)
Cranial morphology and phylogenetic relationship of the enigmatic dinocephalian Styracocephalus platyrhynchus from the Karoo Supergroup, South Africa.
Palaeontologia africana 54: 14â29
Styracocephalus platyrhynchus is an unusual dinocephalian therapsid, known only from a handful of specimens from the Tapinocephalus Assemblage Zone of South Africa. It has had a chequered taxonomic history, largely because it is characterized by cranial pachyostosis and the presence of horn-like structures that project posteriorly from the temporal region; these features are found in the clades Burnetiamorpha and Dinocephalia. Its affinities have been further obfuscated by a lack of well-preserved material. This paper presents a description of a well-preserved skull referable to Styracocephalus from the western Karoo Basin and provides a revised generic diagnosis for the genus. This study â incorporating comparative anatomy,CT scanning, and cladistic analysis â reveals new character information that was not evident from pre-existing Styracocephalus material, and incorporates this into a new phylogenetic analysis. Our analysis recovers Styracocephalidae as a well-supported, monotypic family within Tapinocephalia, which is characterized by: prominent pachyostotic nasal and supraorbital bosses; two posteriorly projecting crest-like protuberances comprising contributions by the postorbital, squamosal and tabular bones; weak lingual heels on the incisor and postcanine dentition present with a moderate upper and lower canine. As Styracocephalus is restricted to the upper part of the Tapinocephalus Assemblage Zone, it may be a useful biostratigraphic index taxon in future.