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French Early Jurassic Ichthyosaurs

From: Ben Creisler

New article in July Neues Jahrbuch:

Fischer, Valentin; Guiomar, Myette; Godefroit, Pascal (2011)
New data on the palaeobiogeography of Early Jurassic marine reptiles: the
Toarcian ichthyosaur fauna of the Vocontian Basin (SE France). 
Neues Jahrbuch für Geologie und Paläontologie - Abhandlungen 261(1): 111-127
DOI: 10.1127/0077-7749/2011/0155


The Vocontian Basin (SE France) was formed along the northwestern border of
Tethys during Mesozoic times. Mainly known for its rich ammonite fauna,
this basin has also yielded several Lower Jurassic ichthyosaurs. The
specimens discussed here were discovered in lower Toarcian limestone and
marl successions in the vicinity of Digne-les-Bains, High-Provence Alps.
The best-preserved specimen is identified as Suevoleviathan sp., a rare
taxon previously reported only in southern Germany. Along with this
specimen, premaxillae and paddle elements of Eurhinosaurus sp. and probable
Stenopterygiidae centra were found in neighbouring localities. These
specimens were preserved thanks to the deposition of soft anoxic marls or
calcarodetritic sediments, coeval with other anoxic shales in Europe (the
Toarcian Oceanic Anoxic Event or T-OAE), which allows faunal comparisons
between these basins. The localities from the Vocontian Basin are closer to
the Tethys than any other sites where identifiable Toarcian ichthyosaurs
have been found in Europe. Nevertheless, the Vocontian ichthyosaur
assemblage is strikingly similar to those of other basins across Europe.
This suggests a wide palaeobiogeographical distribution for Toarcian
ichthyosaurs, reflecting their anatomical adaptations as highly mobile

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