Susan R. Beard (2017)
The effect of body size on skeletal articulation and completeness in Jurassic Ichthyopterygia (Reptilia).
PalZ (advance online publication)
A taphonomic investigation of Jurassic ichthyopterygians from the Posidonienschiefer Formation initially supports the common assumption of better preservation with increasing body size. However, there is also an obvious increase in the range of preservational states with decreasing body size, suggesting greater susceptibility of smaller carcasses to the effects of biostratinomic processes. An investigation of articulation and completeness separately against body size indicates a stronger link of completeness to preservation; bigger elements were more difficult to move. Size ranges, which crucially relate to ontogenetic stages, suggest the extent of disarticulation and loss of completeness is greater in juvenile and embryonic skeletons (less than 200 cm ±) compared to those of adults (over 200 cm). The study has important implications for the preservation of different body size ranges, in particular, those representing ontogenetic stages in ichthyopterygians and other marine reptile groups, but, more generally, for vertebrates entering the fossil record.