Reassessment of Faxinalipterus minimus, a purported Triassic pterosaur from southern Brazil with the description of a new taxon.PeerJ. 2022; 10:e13276.P
Faxinalipterus minimus was originally described as a purported pterosaur from the Late Triassic (early Norian) Caturrita Formation of southern Brazil. Its holotype comprises fragmentary postcranial elements, whereas a partial maxilla was referred to the species. The assignment of Faxinalipterus minimus to Pterosauria has been questioned by some studies, but the specimen has never been accessed in detail after its original description. Here we provide a reassessment of Faxinalipterus minimus after additional mechanical preparation of the holotype. Our interpretations on the identity of several bones differ from those of the original description, and we found no support favoring pterosaur affinities for the taxon. The maxilla previously referred to Faxinalipterus minimus is disassociated from this taxon and referred to a new putative pterosauromorph described here from a partial skull and fragmentary postcranial elements. Maehary bonapartei gen. et sp. nov. comes from the same fossiliferous site that yielded Faxinalipterus minimus, but the lack of overlapping bones hampers comparisons between the two taxa. Our phylogenetic analysis places Faxinalipterus minimus within Lagerpetidae and Maehary bonapartei gen. et sp. nov. as the earliest-diverging member of Pterosauromorpha. Furthermore, the peculiar morphology of the new taxon reveals a new dental morphotype for archosaurs, characterized by conical, unserrated crowns, with a pair of apicobasally oriented grooves. These two enigmatic archosaurs expand our knowledge on the Caturrita Formation fauna and reinforce the importance of its beds on the understanding of Late Triassic ecosystems.