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Title   A new long-snouted marine reptile from the Middle Triassic of China illuminates pachypleurosauroid evolution
Authors   Guang-Hui Xu
Corresponding Author   Qing-Hua Shang
Year   2023
Title of Journal   Scientific Reports
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Abstract   Sauropterygia is the largest, most successful group of Mesozoic marine diapsids, spanning from the late Early Triassic to the Late Cretaceous. Plesiomorphic for sauropterygians, pachypleurosauroids are important for our understanding on the early evolution of this group. Here, we present a new pachypleurosaurid, Luopingosaurus imparilis gen. et sp. nov., based on an exceptionally preserved skeleton from the early Middle Triassic Luoping Lagerst´╝čtte in Yunnan, China. The discovery documents the first long-snouted pachypleurosaurid with an unexpected hyperphalangy in the manus, providing new insights into the morphological diversification, ecological adaption and biogeographic evolution of this clade. The discovery further indicates that there is a morphological divergence between short-snouted (brevirostrine) keichousaurids and relatively long-snouted (longirostrine) pachypleurosaurids, which was probably driven by ecological specializations related to feeding and foraging. Additionally, an evolutionary trend towards the reduction of the ratio of the hyoid length to mandibular length (HM ratio) is recognized in pachypleurosauroids. This reduction of HM ratio, associated with the increase of the snout length, might implicate a gradual recession of suction feeding in pachypleurosauroid evolution. Phylogenetic studies incorporating Luopingosaurus recover European pachypleurosaurids as successive sister groups to Chinese derived pachypleurosaurids, supporting a western Tethyan origin for this family.
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Full Text Link   https://www.nature.com/articles/s41598-022-24930-yhttps://www.nature.com/articles/s41598-022-24930-y
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