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Temporal range: Lopingian
~259–252 Ma
Claudiosaurus germaini - Redpath Museum - McGill University - Montreal, Canada - DSC07787.jpg
Specimen of Claudiosaurus germaini, on display at the Redpath Museum, Montreal
Scientific classification e
Kingdom: Animalia
Phylum: Chordata
Class: Reptilia
Family: Claudiosauridae
Carroll 1981
Genus: Claudiosaurus
Carroll 1981
Type species
Claudiosaurus germaini

Claudiosaurus (claud is Latin for "lameness" and saurus means "lizard") is an extinct genus of diapsid reptiles from the Permian Sakamena Formation of the Morondava Basin, Madagascar. The pattern of the vertebrate, girle, and limbs indicates that Claudiosaurus and Thadeosaurus share a common ancestor.

History and discovery[edit]

Claudiosaurus is known from the Sakamena Formation of Madagascar. Originally claudiosaurs were found from the Late Permian, but they have been recently also found in Early Triassic deposits of Madagascar.

Biology and description[edit]

Life restoration of Claudiosaurus germaini

Claudiosaurus was one of the first members of the Neodiapsida,[1] a group of reptiles containing diapsids more derived than the primitive Araeoscelidia. It had a relatively long body and neck, reaching on overall length of about 60 centimetres (2.0 ft). It is presumed to have been partially oceanic, living its life in a way similar to the modern marine iguana. The main reason for this theory is that the skeleton included substantial amounts cartilage, instead of bone, indicating it had trouble supporting its weight on land. In particular, the sternum was poorly developed, which would have made walking difficult out of water. Instead, it probably swam by undulating its body and tail, and holding its legs close to the body to increase streamlining.[2] A more recent study however indicates that its vertebral column tail and leg proportions are closer to those of terrestrial reptiles, though it is noted that marine iguanas similarly only differ from terrestrial counterparts very subtly.[3] The mean vertebral is approximately twice of Hovasaurus. Claudiosaurus have a more slender tail than Hovasaurus. The frontal contributes the dorsal orbital margin. This prevents the prefrontal from contacting the post frontal. The post frontal is ventrally expanded posteriorly and contributes to the orbital rim. The anterior process of the pterygoid is straight. The closest skull comparison can be with the genus Anarosaurus. Claudiosaurus differs from Acerosodontosaurus and Hovasaurus in the presence of a proportionately long neck.[citation needed]



It is theorized[by whom?] that Claudiosaurus was semi-aquatic.[citation needed] The discovery of pachyostotic thickening of the limb bones and vertebrae supports this theory. The margins of contact in the carpals are poorly defined and therefore retained a lot of cartilage, providing a greater ‘degree of flexibility’ that would be beneficial for swimming.

Feeding ecology[edit]

There is evidence of aquatic feeding habits. Supporting this is the small size of the skull, nature of the palate and marginal dentition and the long neck.[citation needed]


Claudiosaurus is recovered as a relative of turtles by Li et al. (2018), forming a clade with the basal neodiapsid Acerosodontosaurus.[4]


The Lower Sakamamena Formation was deposited in a wetland environment situated within a North-South orientated rift valley, perhaps similar to Lake Tanganyika. The climate at the time of deposition was temperate, warm, and humid, with seasonal rainfall and possible monsoons.[5] Flora from the formation includes the equisetalean Schizoneura, the glossopterid gymnosperm Glossopteris, and seed fern Lepidopteris. Other vertebrates known from the Lower Sakamena Formation include the palaeoniscoid fish Atherstonia, the procolophonid parareptile Barasaurus, the gliding weigeltisaurid reptile Coelurosauravus, the neodiapsids Hovasaurus, Thadeosaurus, and Acerodontosaurus, fragments of rhinesuchid temnospondyls, an indeterminate theriodont therapsid and the dicynodont Oudenodon.[6]


  1. ^ Carroll, R. L. (1981). "Plesiosaur ancestors from the upper permian of Madagascar". Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society. B. 293 (1066): 315–383. Bibcode:1981RSPTB.293..315C. doi:10.1098/rstb.1981.0079.
  2. ^ Palmer, D., ed. (1999). The Marshall Illustrated Encyclopedia of Dinosaurs and Prehistoric Animals. London: Marshall Editions. p. 72. ISBN 1-84028-152-9.
  3. ^ Nuñez Demarco, Pablo; Meneghel, Melitta; Laurin, Michel; Piñeiro, Graciela (27 July 2018). "Was Mesosaurus a Fully Aquatic Reptile?". Frontiers in Ecology and Evolution. 6: 109. doi:10.3389/fevo.2018.00109.
  4. ^ Li, Chun; Fraser, Nicholas C.; Rieppel, Olivier; Wu, Xiao-Chun (August 2018). "A Triassic stem turtle with an edentulous beak". Nature. 560 (7719): 476–479. Bibcode:2018Natur.560..476L. doi:10.1038/s41586-018-0419-1. PMID 30135526. S2CID 52067286.
  5. ^ Buffa, Valentin; Frey, Eberhard; Steyer, J.-Sébastien; Laurin, Michel (4 March 2021). "A new cranial reconstruction of Coelurosauravus elivensis Piveteau, 1926 (Diapsida, Weigeltisauridae) and its implications on the paleoecology of the first gliding vertebrates" (PDF). Journal of Vertebrate Paleontology. 41 (2): e1930020. doi:10.1080/02724634.2021.1930020. S2CID 237517962.
  6. ^ Smith, Roger M. H. (2000). "Sedimentology and taphonomy of Late Permian vertebrate fossil localities in southwestern Madagascar". hdl:10539/16377. {{cite journal}}: Cite journal requires |journal= (help)

Further reading[edit]