A New Upper Jurassic Ophthalmosaurid Ichthyosaur from the Slottsmøya Member, Agardhfjellet Formation of Central Spitsbergen
Roberts et al
Abundant new ichthyosaur material has recently been documented in the Slottsmøya Member of the Agardhfjellet Formation from the Svalbard archipelago of Norway. Here we describe a partial skeleton of a new taxon, Janusaurus lundi, that includes much of the skull and representative portions of the postcranium. The new taxon is diagnosed by a suite of cranial character states including a very gracile stapedial shaft, the presence of a dorsal process on the prearticular and autapomorphic postcranial features such as the presence of an interclavicular trough and a conspicuous anterodorsal process of the ilium. The peculiar morphology of the ilia indicates a previously unrecognized degree of morphological variation in the pelvic girdle of ophthalmosaurids. We also present a large species level phylogenetic analysis of ophthalmosaurids including new and undescribed ichthyosaur material from the Upper Jurassic of Svalbard. Our results recover all Svalbard taxa in a single unresolved polytomy nested within Ophthalmosaurinae, which considerably increases the taxonomic composition of this clade. The paleobiogeographical implications of this result suggest the presence of a single clade of Boreal ophthalmosaurid ichthyosaurs that existed during the latest Jurassic, a pattern also reflected in the high degree of endemicity among some Boreal invertebrates, particularly ammonoids. Recent and ongoing descriptions of marine reptiles from the Slottsmøya Member Lagerstätte provide important new data to test hypotheses of marine amniote faunal turnover at the Jurassic-Cretaceous boundary.