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A presumably marine phytosaur (Reptilia: Archosauria) from the pre-planorbis beds (Hettangian) of England

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A mandibular fragment of a longirostrine archosaur is decribed from the lowermost Jurassic (pre-planorbis beds, lowermost Hettangian) of Watchet, Somerset, England. The specimen is compared to both marine crocodilians (Thalattosuchia) and phytosaurs, groups which are either unknown (Thalattosuchia) or only doubtfully represented (Phytosauria) in lowermost Jurassic strata so far. The specimen shows striking morphological similarity to the Late Triassic phytosaur Mystriosuchus, but differs from known teleosaurid and metriorhynchid thalattosuchians. It is consequently determined as aff. Mystriosuchus. It supports previous assumptions that phytosaurs crossed the Triassic-Jurassic boundary, at least in Europe. It also provides additional evidence that at least some phytosaurs, particularly the longirostrine forms, may have been facultative marine animals. The persistence of amphibious, piscivorous, longirostrine phytosaurs in the earliest Jurassic of Europe may have hampered the distribution of the ecologically similar teleosaurids, which are not known from strata that are older than the latest Sinemurian to date.
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Document Type: Research Article

Publication date: 01 September 2010

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