Archosauriformes are a major group of fossil and living reptiles that include the crown group Archosauria (birds, crocodilians, and their extinct relatives) and closely related taxa. Archosauriformes are characterized by a highly diagnostic skull architecture, which is linked to the predatory habits of their early representatives and the development of extensive cranial pneumaticity associated with the nasal capsule. The evolution of the archosauriform skull from the more plesiomorphic configuration present ancestrally in the broader clade Archosauromorpha was, until recently, elusive. This began to change with the discovery and description of Teyujagua paradoxa, an early archosauromorph from the Lower Triassic Sanga do Cabral Formation of Brazil. Here, we provide a detailed osteological description of the holotype and thus far only known specimen of T. paradoxa. In addition to providing new details of the anatomy of T. paradoxa, our study also reveals an early development of skull pneumaticity prior to the emergence of the antorbital fenestra. We use these new data to discuss the evolution of antorbital openings within Archosauriformes. Reappraisal of the phylogenetic position of T. paradoxa supports previous hypotheses of a close relationship with Archosauriformes. The data presented here provide new insights into character evolution during the origin of the archosauriform skull.
- Lower Triassic