Re-Evaluation of Kestrosaurus Haughton, a Capitosaurid Temnospondyl Amphibian from the Upper Beaufort Group of South Africa

Michael A. Shishkin, Bruce S. Rubidge, John Hancox, Johann Welman


The enigmatic temnospondyl amphibian Kestrosaurus (K. dreyeri) Haughton from the Lower Triassic of the Karoo Basin, South Africa, long considered a mastodonsaurid or benthosuchid relative, is shown to be a typical capitosaurid closely related to the coeval European genus Parotosuchus, based on a reinvestigation of its cranial morphology. Field observation showed that the provenance of the Kestrosaurus holotype occurs in the lower part of the Cynognathus Assemblage Zone of the Upper Beaufort Group, rather than in the Lystrosaurus Assemblage Zone as was formerly thought. A new graphic restoration of the Kestrosaurus holotype suggests that «Capitosaurus» haughtoni Broili and Schröder from the same part of the Cynognathus Zone, is a junior synonym of Kestrosaurus. The same generic attribution is suggested for the holotype of the coeval «Wetlugasaurus» magnus Watson. Study of new capitosaurid material from the lower division (subzone A) of the Cynognathus Zone of the north-west Free State demonstrated that Kestrosaurus is the most common amphibian of this subzone. Apart from the type species, available data allow for the recognition of an additional species, Kestrosaurus kitchingi sp.nov.


temnospondyls; capitosaurid morphology; Triassic; South Africa; Karoo; Cynognathus Zone

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