February 2 0 , 2017:
Based on specimens previously identified as Tropidostoma, a new taxon of dicynodont (Bulbasaurus phylloxyron gen. et sp. nov.) from the Karoo Basin of South Africa is described. Bulbasaurus is a medium-sized dicynodont (maximum dorsal skull length 16.0 cm) restricted to the Tropidostoma Assemblage Zone (early Lopingian) of the Beaufort Group. Bulbasaurus can be distinguished from Tropidostoma by an array of characters including the presence of a tall, sharp premaxillary ridge, large, rugose, nearly-confluent nasal bosses, a nasofrontal ridge, massive tusks, robust pterygoids, prominently twisted subtemporal bar, and absence of a distinct postfrontal. Inclusion of Bulbasaurus in a phylogenetic analysis of anomodont therapsids recovers it as a member of Geikiidae, a clade of otherwise later Permian dicynodonts such as Aulacephalodon and Pelanomodon. Bulbasaurus exhibits many of the characters typical of adult Aulacephalodon, but at substantially smaller skull size (these characters are absent in comparably-sized Aulacephalodon juveniles), suggesting that the evolution of typical geikiid morphology preceded gigantism in the clade. Bulbasaurus is the earliest known geikiid and the only member of the group known from the Tropidostoma Assemblage Zone; discovery of this taxon shortens a perplexing ghost lineage and indicates that abundant clades from the later Permian of South Africa (e.g., Geikiidae, Dicynodontoidea) may have originated as rare components of earlier Karoo assemblage zones.
Christian F. Kammerer & Roger M.H. Smith (2017)
An early geikiid dicynodont from the Tropidostoma Assemblage Zone (late Permian) of South Africa.