Acta Palaeontologica Polonica

New lizard and rhynchocephalian material from the Lower Cretaceous of southern Italy

Susan. E. Evans, Pasquale Raia, and Carmela Barbera

Acta Palaeontologica Polonica 49 (3), 2004: 393-408

The Lower Cretaceous (Albian age) locality of Pietraroia, near Benevento in southern Italy, has yielded a diverse assemblage of fossil vertebrates, including at least one genus of rhynchocephalian (Derasmosaurus) and two named lizards (Costasaurus and Chometokadmon), as well as the exquisitely preserved small dinosaur, Scipionyx. Here we describe material pertaining to a new species of the fossil lizard genus Eichstaettisaurus (E. gouldi sp. nov.). Eichstaettisaurus was first recorded from the Upper Jurassic (Tithonian age) Solnhofen Limestones of Germany, and more recently from the basal Cretaceous (Berriasian) of Montsec, Spain. The new Italian specimen provides a significant extension to the temporal range of Eichstaettisaurus while supporting the hypothesis that the Pietraroia assemblage may represent a relictual island fauna. The postcranial morphology of the new eichstaettisaur suggests it was predominantly ground-living. Further skull material of E. gouldi sp. nov. was identified within the abdominal cavity of a second new lepidosaurian skeleton from the same locality. This second partial skeleton is almost certainly rhynchocephalian, based primarily on foot and pelvic structure, but it is not Derasmosaurus and cannot be accommodated within any known genus due to the unusual morphology of the tail vertebrae.

Key words: Lepidosauria, Squamata, Rhynchocephalia, palaeobiogeography, predation, Cretaceous, Italy.

Susan E. Evans [], Department of Anatomy and Developmental Biology, University College London, Gower Street, London WC1E 6BT, England; Pasquale Raia [] and Carmela Barbera [], Dipartimento di Paleontologia, Università di Napoli, Largo S. Marcellino 10, Napoli, Italy.

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