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NEW MATERIAL OF MENADON BESAIRIEI (CYNODONTIA: TRAVERSODONTIDAE) FROM THE TRIASSIC OF MADAGASCAR
New specimens of the traversodontid cynodont Menadon besairiei from the Middle/Late Triassic ‘Isalo II’ beds of southwestern Madagascar are described. The new specimens include a skull and the first postcranial material described for this taxon. Although the referred skull differs from the holotype of M. besairiei in some regards, these differences are interpreted as intraspecific variation and preservational artifacts. The new material allows clarification of some aspects of the cranial morphology of Menadon, showing that, contrary to previous reports, this taxon had a well-developed internarial bar and four upper incisors. The postcranium of Menadon displays a mixture of advanced features observed in the South American traversodontid Exaeretodon, such as tall caudal neural spines, and primitive features observed in earlier traversodontids like Luangwa, such as heterogeneous rib morphology. A phylogenetic analysis incorporating information from the new specimens supports the placement of Menadon as the sister taxon to the clade Exaeretodon + Scalenodontoides.
Stereopair and interpretive drawing of main cranial fragment of FMNH PR 2444 in left lateral view. Scale bar equals 5 cm. Sutures are not visible in this specimen, and have been reconstructed based on the holotype of Menadon besairiei.