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Ornatocephalus metzleri gen. et spec. nov. (Lacertilia, Scincoida) [English]: Taxonomy and Paleobiology of a basal Scincoid Lizard from the Messel Formation (Middle Eocene: basal Lutetian, Geiseltalium), Germany

MonographJournal / Magazine

Series: Abhandlungen der Senckenbergischen Naturforschenden Gesellschaft Volume: 561

By: Sinje Weber (Author)

159 pages, 78 illustrations, 7 tables

Senckenbergische Naturforschende Gesellschaft

Paperback | Jan 2004 | #201879 | ISBN: 3510613732
Availability: Usually dispatched within 1-2 weeks Details
NHBS Price: £38.99 $48/€44 approx

About this book

Language: English

A new lizard genus and species is described from the Messel pit fossil site (Middle Eocene): Ornatocephalus metzleri. Its taxonomical position and phylogeny within the lizards as well as the reconstruction of the mode of life are subjects of Ornatocephalus metzleri gen. et spec. nov. (Lacertilia, Scincoida): Taxonomy and Paleobiology of a basal Scincoid Lizard from the Messel Formation (Middle Eocene: basal Lutetian, Geiseltalium), Germany. This extinct species is not known from any other fossil site. Remarkable characters are, among others, the relatively large, heavily sculptured head and the extraordinary long tail.

The systematic classification is problematic and it is not possible to clearly attribute the new taxon to any fossil or recent group. Since there are relationships towards the scincids and cordyloids, the new taxon is placed within the scincoidea. The second part of the article concerns the mode of life of the lizard. Among other characters, the long prehensile tail, the strongly curved claws and the limb proportions strongly suggest an arboreal mode of life.

Three specimens still have intestinal contents, mainly plant remains and a few fragments of insect cuticula. Ornatocephalus metzleriwas not an effective and agile predator, but rather a large herbivore and occasional insectivore.


Introduction 2 
Aims of this study 2 
The Messel Pit Fossil Site 2 
Geology 2 
Biostratonomy of Messel fossils 4 
Eocene Lake Messel and its surroundings 5 
History of the Messel Pit Fossil Site 6 
Previous work on Messel Lacertilia 6 
Taxonomic and phylogenetic position of the new taxon 7 
Lacertilian relationships and paleontology 7 
Main concepts in lizard taxonomy ­ Historical overview 7 
Stratigraphic distribution of lizards 8 
Cladistics and numerical taxonomy 8 
Previous cladistical work using numerical taxonomy 10 
Material and methods 10 
Material 10 
Preparation 11 
Documentation 11 
Cladistical methods using numerical taxonomy 12 
Terminology 13 
Abbreviations 13 
Results 13 
Systematic Paleontology 13 
Intraspecific variation 65 
Results of numerical taxonomy 68 
Discussion 81 
Taxonomic position of Ornatocephalus metzleri based on comparative morphology 81 
Phylogenic reconstruction using numerical methods 93 
Synthesis of the results obtained by comparative morphology and numerical taxonomy 98 
Palaeoecological Reconstruction of Ornatocephalus metzleri 99 
Microhabitat Reconstruction 99 
Introduction to Functional Morphology of the Postcranium 99 
Material and Methods 101 
Results 102 
Discussion 105 
Nutrition 112 
Introduction 112 
Material and Methods 115 
Results 116 
Discussion 118 
"Synecology" of Messel Lacertilians and arboreal vertebrates 131 
Stratigraphic and geographic distribution of the Scincoidea 132 
Scincidae 132 
Cordyliformes 133 
Paramacellodidae 133 
Ornatocephalus metzleri 135 
Acknowledgements 135 
References 136 
Appendix 1-11 143

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