Article: The basicranium of dicynodonts (Synapsida) and its use in phylogenetic analysis
Current phylogenetic hypotheses for the dicynodonts conflict, probably because the characters used, especially those of the jaws and facial region, show considerable convergence. Characters of the braincase and basipterygoid articulation of the Late Permian-Middle Triassic dicynodonts Diictodon, Dicynodon, Kingoria, Lystrosaurus, Rechnisaurus, and 14 other genera, may have phylogenetic value. Parsimony analysis and the character compatability permutation test suggest, at the highest possible confidence level, that the data set contains significant hierarchical structure, interpreted as a result of phylogeny. The most parsimonious tree broadly agrees with all recent hypotheses on the relationships among dicynodonts. However, it conflicts with the recent suggestion that Lystrosaurus is part of a clade of Middle-Late Triassic dicynodonts, but supports the basal position of Kingoria. The use of Eodicynodon as an outgroup does not perturb the parsimonious relationship of the included taxa. Topological constraints reveal that phylogenetic hypotheses based only on basicranial characters are not robust. Characters of the basipterygoid articulation and inner braincase have high consistency and retention indices, which suggests that the main evolutionary transformations in the dicynodont basicranium occurred within these structures.