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Filling the gap – an ichthyosaur (Reptilia: Ichthyosauria) from the Middle Triassic Botneheia Formation of Svalbard

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For the first time, remains of articulated ichthyosaur skeletons are described from the Middle Triassic (Anisian to Lower Ladinian) Botneheia Formation of Spitzbergen. They are from the coast of Sauriedalen, Dickson Land, Svalbard. The two specimens comprise part of the trunk and the caudal vertebral column respectively. Some features, such as the very high and narrow caudal and posterior thoracic neural spines, the relatively elongate posterior thoracic vertebrae and the long and slender haemapophyses indicate that they probably represent a member of the family Toretocnemidae. If this is true, it would not only be the oldest record of the family, confirming the recent suggestion of a sister-group relationship between mixosaurs and torectocnemids, but also the first record from Svalbard. As numerous ichthyosaur finds are known from the underlying Lower Triassic Vikingh√łgda Formation and the overlying Middle to Upper Triassic Tschermakfjellet Formation, the new specimens help to close a huge gap in the fossil record of the Triassic ichthyosaurs from Svalbard.
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Keywords: BOTNEHEIA FORMATION; ICHTHYOSAURIA; MIDDLE TRIASSIC; SVALBARD; TORETOCNEMIDAE

Document Type: Research Article

Publication date: November 1, 2009

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