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Scientific Publication Citing Dragonfly

X-ray computed microtomography of Megachirella wachtleri

Tiago R. Simões (1), Michael W. Caldwell (1,2), Mateusz Tałanda (3), Massimo Bernardi (4,5), Alessandro Palci (6,7), Oksana Vernygora (1), Federico Bernardini (8,9), Lucia Mancini (10), and Randall L. Nydam (11)
Scientific Data, 5, Issue 80244, November 2018. DOI: 10.1038/sdata.2018.244


Herpetology, Palæontology, Phylogenetics, X-ray tomography


Understanding the origin and early evolution of squamates has been a considerable challenge given the extremely scarce fossil record of early squamates and their poor degree of preservation. In order to overcome those limitations, we conducted high-resolution X-ray computed tomography (CT) studies on the fossil reptile Megachirella wachtleri (Middle Triassic, northern Italy), which revealed an important set of features indicating this is the oldest known fossil squamate in the world, predating the previous oldest record by ca. 75 million years. We also compiled a new phylogenetic data set comprising a large sample of diapsid reptiles (including morphological and molecular data) to investigate the phylogenetic relationships of early squamates and other reptile groups along with the divergence time of those lineages. The re-description of Megachirella and a new phylogenetic hypothesis of diapsid relationships are presented in a separate study. Here we present the data descriptors for the tomographic scans of Megachirella, which holds fundamental information to our understanding on the early evolution of one of the largest vertebrate groups on Earth today.

How Our Software Was Used

Segmentation of the whole body was executed using Dragonfly.

Author Affiliation

(1) Department of Biological Sciences, University of Alberta, Edmonton, Alberta, T6G 2E9, Canada.
(2) Department of Earth and Atmospheric Sciences, University of Alberta, Edmonton, T6G 2E9, Alberta, Canada
(3) Department of Palaeobiology and Evolution, Faculty of Biology, University of Warsaw, Żwirki we Wigury, 101, 02-089, Warsaw, Poland.
(4) MUSE - Museo delle Scienze di Trento, Corso del Lavoro e della Scienza 3, Trento, 38123, Italy.
(5) School of Earth Sciences, University of Bristol, Bristol, BS81RJ, UK.
(6) College of Science and Engineering, Flinders University, Adelaide, 5042, South Australia, Australia.
(7) South Australian Museum, North Terrace, Adelaide, 5000, South Australia, Australia.
(8) Museo Storico della Fisica e Centro di Studi e Ricerche “Enrico Fermi”, Piazza del Viminale 1, Roma, 00184, Italy.
(9) The “Abdus Salam” International Centre for Theoretical Physics, Strada Costiera 11, Trieste, 34151, Italy.
(10) Elettra - Sincrotrone Trieste S.C.p.A., SS 14, Km 163.5, Area Science Park, Basovizza, 34149, Trieste, Italy.
(11) Department of Anatomy, Arizona College of Osteopathic Medicine, Midwestern University, 19555 North 59th Dr., Glendale, 85383, AZ, USA.

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