A review of the stem amniote Eldeceeon rolfei from the Viséan of East Kirkton, Scotland
Published online by Cambridge University Press: 10 August 2020
The late Viséan anthracosauroid Eldeceeon rolfei from the East Kirkton Limestone of Scotland is re-described. Information from two originally described and two newly identified specimens broadens our knowledge of this tetrapod. A detailed account of individual skull bones and a revision of key axial and appendicular features are provided, alongside the first complete reconstructions of the skull and lower jaw and a revised reconstruction of the postcranial skeleton. In comparison to Silvanerpeton, the only other anthracosauroid from East Kirkton, Eldeceeon is characterised by a proportionally wider semi-elliptical skull, comparatively smaller nostrils set farther apart, smaller and more rounded orbits, a shorter skull table with gently convex lateral margins, and a deeper suspensorium with a straight posterior margin and a small dorsal embayment. The remarkably large hind feet and elongate toes of Eldeceeon presumably represent an adaptation for attaining high locomotory speed through increased stride length and reduced stride frequency. This would necessitate great muscle force but few muscle contractions. At the beginning of a new stride cycle, repositioning the pes anteriorly and lifting the toes off the ground would require a strong and large muscle to pull the femur upward and rotate it inward and forward. It is hypothesised that such muscle might correspond to the puboischiofemoralis internus 2, which would extend along the posterior half of the vertebral column, consistent with the occurrence of long, curved ribs in the anterior half of the trunk. Using maximum parsimony and Bayesian inference, cladistic analyses of all major groups of stem amniotes retrieve a sister group relationship between Eldeceeon and Silvanerpeton, either as the most plesiomorphic stem amniote clade or as a clade immediately crownward of anthracosauroids.
- Earth and Environmental Science Transactions of The Royal Society of Edinburgh , Volume 111 , Issue 3 , September 2020 , pp. 173 - 192
- Copyright © The Author(s) 2020. Published by Cambridge University Press on behalf of The Royal Society of Edinburgh