Article: Revision of Habrosaurus Gilmore (Caudata; Sirenidae) and relationships among sirenid salamanders
The sirenid salamander Habrosaurus is revised and redescribed based on skull elements and vertebrae from the middle Campanian-middle Palaeocene of the North American Western Interior. Habrosaurus differs from the Cenozoic (Eocene-Recent) sirenids Siren and Pseudobranchus in a suite of cranial and vertebral plesiomorphies, one vertebral character of uncertain polarity and five apomorphies describing the structure of the dentary, atlas and tooth crowns. Two species are identified based on dental characters: the type species H. dilatus (late Maastrichtian-middle Palaeocene) has stout marginal and palatal teeth with bulbous crowns and prominent wear facets, whereas H. prodilatus sp. nov. (middle Campanian) has chisel-like marginal teeth (palatal teeth unknown) with weaker wear facets. Habrosaurus is argued to be the geologically oldest, undoubted sirenid and the sister-taxon of Siren + Pseudobranchus. Replacement of marginal teeth with a broad, horny beak in Siren and Pseudobranchus and the broad, bulbous marginal and palatal teeth in H. dilatus are proposed to be convergent strategies for achieving a crushing bite. The chisel-like teeth of H. prodilatus are interpreted as being transitional to the more specialized, crushing dentition of H. dilatus.