Wednesday, December 11, 2013

Neotony Or Larger Adult Size in Maastrichtian Cretaceous Plesiosaurs From Patagonia?

Reappraisal of Tuarangisaurus? cabazai (Elasmosauridae, Plesiosauria) from the Upper Maastrichtian of northern Patagonia, Argentina


O'Gorman et al.


The holotype of Tuarangisaurus? cabazai Gasparini, Salgado and Casadio, 2003 (Elasmosauridae, Plesiosauria) from the Upper Maastrichtian Jagüel Formation (northern Patagonia, Argentina) is redescribed, its taxonomic status is reconsidered, and its phylogenetic relationships analysed. We conclude that it must be referred as an aristonectin elasmosaurid. The complete ilium of an Aristonectinae is described for the first time, and reveals a distinctive proximodistally elongated facet in its distal end. Aristonectins are the most commonly recorded Weddellian elasmosaurids. There is a high proportion of osteologically immature individuals (“juveniles”) within the investigated sample of specimens. Most of these are larger than other juvenile elasmosaurids, and apparently retain juvenile features at larger body sizes.

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