A new rhynchocephalian (Reptilia: Lepidosauria) from the late Jurassic of solnhofen (Germany) and the origin of the marine pleurosauridae

Gaberiel Bever, Marka Norell

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

Abstract

A new rhynchocephalian is described based on a recently discovered and well-preserved specimen from the Late Jurassic (Kimmeridgian) marine limestones of Solnhofen, Bavaria. Phylogenetic analysis recovers the new taxon as the sister group to Pleurosauridae, a small radiation of rhynchocephalians representing the oldest marine invasion of crown-clade Lepidosauria. The relatively strong evidence for this taxonomically exclusive lineage, within a generally volatile rhynchocephalian tree, places the new taxon in a position to inform the early history of the pleurosaur transition to the sea. The early steps in this transition are distributed throughout the skeleton and appear to increase hydrodynamic efficiency for both swimming and aquatic feeding. This early history may also have included a global truncation of plesiomorphic ontogenetic trajectories that left a number of skeletal features with reduced levels of ossification/fusion. The exact degree to which Vadasaurus had adopted an aquatic ecology remains unclear, but the insight it provides into the origin of the enigmatic pleurosaurs exemplifies the potential of Rhynchocephalia for generating and informing broad-based questions regarding the interplay of development, morphology, ecology and macroevolutionary patterns.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number170570
JournalRoyal Society Open Science
Volume4
Issue number11
DOIs
StatePublished - Nov 8 2017

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Reptiles
Germany
Hydrobiology
History
Calcium Carbonate
Hydrodynamics
Ecology
Crowns
Osteogenesis
Skeleton
Oceans and Seas
Radiation

Keywords

  • Bavaria
  • Marine reptile
  • Secondarily aquatic
  • Skeletal development
  • Sphenodontia
  • Tethys

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General

Cite this

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abstract = "A new rhynchocephalian is described based on a recently discovered and well-preserved specimen from the Late Jurassic (Kimmeridgian) marine limestones of Solnhofen, Bavaria. Phylogenetic analysis recovers the new taxon as the sister group to Pleurosauridae, a small radiation of rhynchocephalians representing the oldest marine invasion of crown-clade Lepidosauria. The relatively strong evidence for this taxonomically exclusive lineage, within a generally volatile rhynchocephalian tree, places the new taxon in a position to inform the early history of the pleurosaur transition to the sea. The early steps in this transition are distributed throughout the skeleton and appear to increase hydrodynamic efficiency for both swimming and aquatic feeding. This early history may also have included a global truncation of plesiomorphic ontogenetic trajectories that left a number of skeletal features with reduced levels of ossification/fusion. The exact degree to which Vadasaurus had adopted an aquatic ecology remains unclear, but the insight it provides into the origin of the enigmatic pleurosaurs exemplifies the potential of Rhynchocephalia for generating and informing broad-based questions regarding the interplay of development, morphology, ecology and macroevolutionary patterns.",
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