Article: A new elasmosaurid plesiosaur from the Lower Jurassic of southern France
Nathalie Bardet, Pascal Godefroit and Jacques Sciau
Plesiosaurus tournemirensis Sciau, Crochet and Mattei, based on a nearly complete skeleton with skull from the Upper Toarcian (Lower Jurassic) of Tournemire (Aveyron Department, southern France), is here redescribed and reinterpreted. Comparisons with other plesiosaurs indicate that it belongs to a new genus, Occitanosaurus. O. tournemirensis is characterized mainly by its spatulate premaxillae with short facial process, very high postorbital broadly contacting posterior ramus of the maxilla, trapezoidal jugal excluded from orbital margin, orbit diagonally oriented, temporal fenestra with a sigmoidal anterior margin, 43 cervical vertebrae, powerful interclavicle-clavicle complex and coracoids with a pointed protuberance on lateral border and expanded posterolateral cornua. Cranial and cervical vertebra features show that this new genus is undoubtedly a representative of the Elasmosauridae. A preliminary cladistic analysis of long-necked plesiosaurs reveals that, within Elasmosauridae, Occitanosaurus is a close relative of Microcleidus and Muraenosaurus.