A new species of longirostrine plioplatecarpine mosasaur (Squamata: Mosasauridae) from the Late Cretaceous of Morocco, with a re-evaluation of the problematic taxon ‘Platecarpus’ ptychodon

Catherine R.C. Strong, Michael W. Caldwell, Takuya Konishi, Alessandro Palci

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract

The Upper Cretaceous phosphates of Morocco preserve one of the world’s most diverse assemblages of mosasaurs, reflecting the adaptive radiation of this clade during the Maastrichtian. Herein, we describe a new mosasaur from these deposits. Although the teeth of this specimen resemble those of ‘Platecarpus’ ptychodon, suggesting referral to this species, we re-examine and ultimately reject the fundamental validity of ‘P.’ ptychodon due to the non-diagnostic nature of its holotype and original diagnosis. We instead designate the new specimen as the holotype of a new genus and species, Gavialimimus almaghribensis, gen. et sp. nov. G. almaghribensis is characterized by a highly elongate snout, highly retracted nares and large supratemporal fenestrae, among other features. Phylogenetic analysis under multiple parsimony-based methods reveals novel substructure within the subfamily Plioplatecarpinae, consistently recovering a clade uniting the new species with Selmasaurus and the enigmatic Goronyosaurus. Synapomorphies of this clade include a highly constricted parietal, with Selmasaurus and Gavialimimus being further united by a broadly excavated medial surface of the quadrate suprastapedial process. The cranial morphology of G. almaghribensis also provides new insight into several aspects of mosasaur evolution and comparative anatomy, including adaptive radiation and niche partitioning in Moroccan marine palaeoecosystems. http://zoobank.org/urn:lsid:zoobank.org:pub:6896D6EE-2609-4917-A811-904B5AA7A8BB.

Original languageEnglish
Number of pages37
JournalJOURNAL OF SYSTEMATIC PALAEONTOLOGY
DOIs
Publication statusE-pub ahead of print - 28 Sep 2020

Keywords

  • adaptive radiation
  • functional morphology
  • niche partitioning
  • palaeoecology
  • taxonomic revision
  • vertebrate palaeontology

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