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Article: A basal mixosaurid ichthyosaur from the Middle Triassic of China

Publication: Palaeontology
Volume: 48
Part: 4
Publication Date: July 2005
Page(s): 869 882
Author(s): Da-Yong Jiang, Wei-Chen Hao, Michael W. Maisch, Andreas T. Matzke and Yuan-Lin Sun
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How to Cite

JIANG, D., HAO, W., MAISCH, M. W., MATZKE, A. T., SUN, Y. 2005. A basal mixosaurid ichthyosaur from the Middle Triassic of China. Palaeontology48, 4, 869–882.

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New specimens of a mixosaurid ichthyosaur are described from the People's Republic of China. They consist of an almost complete skull, forefin and shoulder girdle of a single individual, and a second partial skull from the Anisian Guanling Formation of Guizhou Province that belongs to the same taxon. A phylogenetic analysis shows this species to be the sister-taxon of all other mixosaurids. It is distinguished from Mixosaurus, Contecotpalatus and Phalarodon by features of its dentition and cranial morphology. There is only one maxillary tooth row. The posterior maxillary teeth are blunt and rounded, and much wider than the premaxillary teeth, but they are not strongly elongated anteroposteriorly. The teeth are subthecodontously implanted. The postorbital skull segment is long. The jugal-quadratojugal notch is deep and these two elements remain separated externally. The postorbital separates supratemporal and postfrontal. There are no postaxial ossifications of the forefin. Autapomorphies include a long ventral process of the postorbital lamina of the postorbital as well as characteristic morphologies of the coracoid and humerus. The material is therefore clearly distinguished from other known mixosaurids. It can be referred, on the basis of the features of the humerus and coracoid, to Mixosaurus maotaiensis Young, 1965. As it is generically distinct from Mixosaurus, a new generic name, Barracudasaurus gen. nov. is proposed. The phylogenetic relevance of the external separation of jugal and quadratojugal in some Triassic ichthyosaurs is discussed and it is concluded that it does not demonstrate the initial presence of a lower temporal fenestra in ichthyosaurs. The new material suggests that mixosaurids could have also originated in the Eastern rather than the Western Tethys, as previously assumed.
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