An unusual small-bodied crocodyliform from the Middle Jurassic of Scotland, UK, and potential evidence for an early diversification of advanced neosuchians - NMS Research Repository
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An unusual small-bodied crocodyliform from the Middle Jurassic of Scotland, UK, and potential evidence for an early diversification of advanced neosuchians

28 June 2017

Abstract

The Middle Jurassic is a poorly sampled time interval for non-pelagic neosuchian crocodyliforms, which obscures our understanding of the origin and early evolution of major clades. Here we report a lower jaw from the Middle Jurassic (Bathonian) Duntulm Formation of the Isle of Skye, Scotland, UK, which consists of an isolated and incomplete left dentary and part of the splenial. Morphologically, the Skye specimen closely resembles the Cretaceous neosuchians Pachycheilosuchus and Pietraroiasuchus, in having a proportionally short mandibular symphysis, shallow dentary alveoli and inferred weakly heterodont dentition. It differs from other crocodyliforms in that the Meckelian canal is dorsoventrally expanded posterior to the mandibular symphysis and drastically constricted at the 7th alveolus. The new specimen, together with the presence of Theriosuchus sp. from the Valtos Formation and indeterminate neosuchians from the Kilmaluag Formation, indicates the presence of a previously unrecognised, diverse crocodyliform fauna in the Middle Jurassic of Skye, and Europe more generally. Small-bodied neosuchians were present, and ecologically and taxonomically diverse, in nearshore environments in the Middle Jurassic of the UK.

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