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Pliosaur with diseased jaw (official paper)



From: Ben Creisler
bcreisler@gmail.com

The official paper is now out for a news story and press release about
a diseased pliosaur jaw posted yesterday:

Sassoon, J., Noe, L. F. and Benton, M. J. (2012)
Cranial anatomy, taxonomic implications and palaeopathology of an
Upper Jurassic pliosaur (Reptilia: Sauropterygia) from Westbury,
Wiltshire, UK.
Palaeontology (advance online publication)
doi: 10.1111/j.1475-4983.2012.01151.x
http://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1111/j.1475-4983.2012.01151.x/abstract


Complete skulls of giant marine reptiles of the Late Jurassic are
rare, and so the discovery of the 1.8-m-long skull of a pliosaur from
the Kimmeridge Clay Formation (Kimmeridgian) of Westbury, Wiltshire,
UK, is an important find. The specimen shows most of the cranial and
mandibular anatomy, as well as a series of pathological conditions. It
was previously referred to Pliosaurus brachyspondylus, but it can be
referred reliably only to the genus Pliosaurus, because species within
the genus are currently in need of review. The new specimen, together
with another from the same locality, also referred to P.
brachyspondylus, will be crucial in that systematic revision, and it
is likely that the genus Pliosaurus will be found to include several
genera. The two Westbury Pliosaurus specimens share many features,
including the form of the teeth, but marked differences in the snout
and parietal crest suggest sexual dimorphism; the present specimen is
probably female. The large size of the animal, the extent of sutural
fusion and the pathologies suggest this is an ageing individual. An
erosive arthrotic condition of the articular glenoids led to prolonged
jaw misalignment, generating a suite of associated bone and dental
pathologies. Further damage to the jaw joint may have been the cause
of death.

Additional news coverage:
http://news.discovery.com/earth/pliosaur-arthritis-120516.html