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Giant Nothosaurus species from Middle Triassic of China (free pdf)
A new paper in open access Science Reports:
Jun Liu, Shi-xue Hu, Olivier Rieppel, Da-yong Jiang, Michael J.
Benton, Neil P. Kelley, Jonathan C. Aitchison, Chang-yong Zhou, Wen
Wen, Jin-yuan Huang, Tao Xie & Tao Lv (2014)
A gigantic nothosaur (Reptilia: Sauropterygia) from the Middle
Triassic of SW China and its implication for the Triassic biotic
Scientific Reports 4, Article number: 7142
The presence of gigantic apex predators in the eastern Panthalassic
and western Tethyan oceans suggests that complex ecosystems in the sea
had become re-established in these regions at least by the early
Middle Triassic, after the Permian-Triassic mass extinction (PTME).
However, it is not clear whether oceanic ecosystem recovery from the
PTME was globally synchronous because of the apparent lack of such
predators in the eastern Tethyan/western Panthalassic region prior to
the Late Triassic. Here we report a gigantic nothosaur from the lower
Middle Triassic of Luoping in southwest China (eastern Tethyan ocean),
which possesses the largest known lower jaw among Triassic
sauropterygians. Phylogenetic analysis suggests parallel evolution of
gigantism in Triassic sauropterygians. Discovery of this gigantic apex
predator, together with associated diverse marine reptiles and the
complex food web, indicates global recovery of shallow marine
ecosystems from PTME by the early Middle Triassic.