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Oldest known amphisbaenian from the Upper Cretaceous of Chinese Inner Mongolia

Naturevolume 366pages5759 (1993) | Download Citation

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Abstract

THE amphisbaenians, lizards and snakes constitute a monophyletic group, the Squamata. Although amphisbaenians are known to have occurred in the Mesozoic1,2, their remains are rare and fragmentary. The oldest and most primitive known skull of an amphisbaenian is from the Eocene of North America3 and differs little from that of modern taxa4–9. A substantial structural gap exists between this skull and that of the several possible sister groups8,10. No derived features uniquely linking amphisbaenians to any other group of the Squamata have been recognized, so the relationship of amphisbaenians is uncertain11,12. We report here on the late Cretaceous lizard-like amphisbaenian represented by well-preserved cranial and postcranial material from the Bayan Mandahu redbeds of the Gobi Desert, Inner Mongolia, China. This material documents the oldest and most primitive amphisbaenian yet known, and permits a re-evaluation of the relationship between the amphisbaenians and other squamates.

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Author information

Author notes

  1. Xiao-chun Wu: To whom correspondence should be addressed at the Royal Tyrrell Museum of Pathology.

Affiliations

  1. Department of Biological Sciences, The University of Calgary, 2500 University Drive NW, Calgary, T2N 1N4, Alberta, Canada

    • Xiao-chun Wu
    • , Donald B. Brinkman
    • , Anthony P. Russell
    •  & Philip J. Currie
  2. Royal Tyrrell Museum of Palaeontology, Box 7500, Drumheller, TOJ OYO, Alberta, Canada

    • Xiao-chun Wu
    • , Donald B. Brinkman
    • , Anthony P. Russell
    •  & Philip J. Currie
  3. Institute of Vertebrate Paleontology and Paleoanthropology, Academia Sinica, Box 643, Beijing, 100044, China

    • Xiao-chun Wu
    • , Zhi-ming Dong
    • , Lian-hai Hou
    •  & Guf-hai Cui

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https://doi.org/10.1038/366057a0

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