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Brachauchenius (Plesiosauria) from Late Cretaceous of Morocco

Ben Creisler

A new paper:

D. Angst and N. Bardet (2015)
A new record of the pliosaur Brachauchenius lucasi Williston, 1903
(Reptilia: Sauropterygia) of Turonian (Late Cretaceous) age, Morocco.
Geological Magazine (advance online publication)
DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1017/S0016756815000321

The site of Goulmima (south Morocco) is well known for its rich marine
fauna of Turonian age (Late Cretaceous). It has yielded a large
variety of invertebrates but also of vertebrate taxa, represented by
actinopterygians and marine reptiles including Plesiosauria
(Sauropterygia) and Mosasauroidea (Squamata). The Plesiosauria are
known so far by two major clades of Plesiosauroidea: the
Elasmosauridae (Libonectes atlasense Buchy, 2005) and the
Polycotylidae (Thililua longicollis, Bardet, Suberbiola & Jalil, 2003a
; Manemergus angirostris Buchy, Metayer & Frey, 2005). Here we
describe a new specimen of plesiosaur found in the same outcrop,
differing from those previously cited and belonging to the other large
plesiosaur clade, the Pliosauroidea. Comparison of this specimen with
other Plesiosauria shows that it belongs to Brachauchenius lucasi
Williston (1903), a species previously known only from the
Cenomanian–Turonian stages of the Western Interior Seaway of North
America and in the upper Barremian succession of northern South
America (Colombia). The description of this species on a
contemporaneous site of North Africa significantly expands its
palaeobiogeographic distribution. This discovery confirms the
affinities between marine faunas of the Western Interior Seaway and
those of North Africa at this time, and also permits a better
understanding of the palaeobiology of the Goulmima outcrop. A
discussion about the systematical status of Polyptychodon Owen, 1841
is also provided.