Rémi Allemand, Nathalie Bardet, Alexandra Houssaye & Peggy Vincent (2017)
New plesiosaurian specimens (Reptilia, Plesiosauria) from the Upper Cretaceous (Turonian) of Goulmima (Southern Morocco).
Cretaceous Research (advance online publication)
Two new plesiosaurian specimens coming from lower Turonian deposits of Goulmima in Morocco are described. The three-dimensional digital reconstructions of both specimens provides details about their skull roof, mandible and atlas-axis complex. In addition, computed tomography allows to reconstruct their braincase, which is a part of the skull poorly known among plesiosaurians due to either poor preservation and/or insufficient preparation, but that offers a large number of characters used in phylogenetical analyses. After descriptions and comparisons, the two specimens D1-8213 and MNHN F-GOU14 are assigned to Libonectes morgani and to an undetermined Polycotylidae, respectively. The presence of the North American taxon Libonectes morgani in the deposits of Goulmima confirms a trans-Atlantic faunal connectivity at that time and that Elasmosauridae were able to exploit the open marine environment for dispersion. Polycotylids have already been described from Goulmima; however, the typical preservation of these specimens in nodules prevented their preparation and the access to their internal anatomy. Here, the use of X-ray computed tomography shows the strong interest to use such a technique and provide new anatomical details.