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[dinosaur] Polyptychodon (Plesiosauria) from Cretaceous of England (free pdf)

Ben Creisler

A new paper in open access:

Daniel Madzia  (2016) 
A reappraisal of Polyptychodon (Plesiosauria) from the Cretaceous of England. 
PeerJ 4:e1998
DOI 10.7717/peerj.1998

Pliosauridae is a globally distributed clade of aquatic predatory amniotes whose fossil record spans from the Lower Jurassic to the Upper Cretaceous. However, the knowledge of pliosaurid interrelationships remains limited. In part, this is a consequence of a few key taxa awaiting detailed reassessment. Among them, the taxon Polyptychodon is of special importance. It was established on isolated teeth from the mid-Cretaceous strata of East and South East England and subsequently associated with numerous finds of near-cosmopolitan distribution. Here the taxon is reassessed based on the original dental material from England, with special focus on a large collection of late Albian material from the Cambridge Greensand near Cambridge. The dental material is reviewed here from historical and stratigraphic perspective, described in detail, and discussed in terms of its diagnostic nature. The considerable morphological variability observed in the teeth attributed to Polyptychodon, together with a wide stratigraphic range of the ascribed material, possibly exceeding 35 Ma (early Aptian to ?middle Santonian), suggests that the taxon is based on a multispecies assemblage, possibly incorporating members of different plesiosaur clades. Due to the absence of any autapomorphic characters or unique character combinations in the original material, Polyptychodon interruptus, the type species of Polyptychodon, is considered nomen dubium. From a global perspective, Polyptychodon is viewed as a wastebasket taxon whose material originating from different localities should be reconsidered separately.