The nonavian theropod quadrate: systematics usefulness, major trends and phylogenetic morphometrics analysis

Hendrickx, C., Araújo R., & Mateus O. (2012).  The nonavian theropod quadrate: systematics usefulness, major trends and phylogenetic morphometrics analysis. : Journal of Vertebrate Paleontology, Program and Abstracts, 2012, p.110. ISSN 1937-2809


The quadrate in nonavian theropods is incredibly diverse morphologically; however this morphological disparity has been underestimated for taxonomic purposes. The quadrate topological homologies and anatomy, as well as the terminology, among nonavian theropod clades are reviewed. In order to evaluate the phylogenetic potential and investigate the evolutionary transformations of the quadrate, we conducted a Catalano-Goloboff phylogenetic morphometric analysis using 3 morphometric characters, a total of 28 landmarks coded for 23 taxa, as well as a cladistic analysis using 115 discrete quadrate-related characters coded for 43 taxa. The cladistic analysis provides a fully resolved tree mirroring the current classification of nonavian theropods. The quadrate morphology by its own provides a wealth of data with strong phylogenetic signal. Several unambiguous synapomorphies support nonavian theropod relationships and the resulting consensus tree allows inference of major trends in the evolution of this bone. Important synapomorphies include: for Abelisauridae, a lateral ramus extending to the ectocondyle; for Tetanurae, the absence of the lateral process; for Spinosauridae, a medial curvature of the ventral part of the pterygoid ramus occurring just above the mandibular articulation; for Neotetanurae, an anterior margin of the pterygoid flange formed by a roughly parabolic margin; and for Tyrannosauroidea, a semi-oval pterygoid flange shape in medial view. The Catalano-Goloboff phylogenetic morphometric analysis reveals two main morphotypes of the mandibular articulation of the quadrate linked to function. The first morphotype, characterized by an anteroposteriorly broad mandibular articulation with two ovoid/subcircular condyles roughly subequal in size, is found in Ceratosauria, Tyrannosauroidea and Oviraptorosauria. This morphotype allows a very weak displacement of the mandible laterally. The second morphotype is characterized by an elongate and anteroposteriorly narrow mandibular articulation and a long and parabolic/sigmoid ectocondyle. Present in Megalosauroidea, Allosauroidea and Dromaeosauridae, this morphotype permits the lower jaw rami to be displaced laterally when the mouth opened.