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A turiasaurian sauropod dinosaur from the Early Cretaceous Wealden Supergroup of the United Kingdom

Mannion, PD; (2019) A turiasaurian sauropod dinosaur from the Early Cretaceous Wealden Supergroup of the United Kingdom. PeerJ , 2019 (7) , Article e6348. 10.7717/peerj.6348. Green open access

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Abstract

The Jurassic/Cretaceous (J/K) boundary, 145 million years ago, has long been recognised as an extinction event or faunal turnover for sauropod dinosaurs, with many 'basal' lineages disappearing. However, recently, a number of 'extinct' groups have been recognised in the Early Cretaceous, including diplodocids in Gondwana, and non-titanosauriform macronarians in Laurasia. Turiasauria, a clade of non-neosauropod eusauropods, was originally thought to have been restricted to the Late Jurassic of western Europe. However, its distribution has recently been extended to the Late Jurassic of Tanzania (Tendaguria tanzaniensis), as well as to the Early Cretaceous of the USA (Mierasaurus bobyoungi and Moabosaurus utahensis), demonstrating the survival of another 'basal' clade across the J/K boundary. Teeth from the Middle Jurassic-Early Cretaceous of western Europe and North Africa have also tentatively been attributed to turiasaurs, whilst recent phylogenetic analyses recovered Late Jurassic taxa from Argentina and China as further members of Turiasauria. Here, an anterior dorsal centrum and neural arch (both NHMUK 1871) from the Early Cretaceous Wealden Supergroup of the UK are described for the first time. NHMUK 1871 shares several synapomorphies with Turiasauria, especially the turiasaurs Moabosaurus and Tendaguria, including: (1) a strongly dorsoventrally compressed centrum; (2) the retention of prominent epipophyses; and (3) an extremely low, non-bifid neural spine. NHMUK 1871 therefore represents the first postcranial evidence for Turiasauria from European deposits of Early Cretaceous age. Although turiasaurs show clear heterodont dentition, only broad, characteristically 'heart'-shaped teeth can currently be attributed to Turiasauria with confidence. As such, several putative turiasaur occurrences based on isolated teeth from Europe, as well as the Middle Jurassic and Early Cretaceous of Africa, cannot be confidently referred to Turiasauria. Unequivocal evidence for turiasaurs is therefore restricted to the late Middle Jurassic-Early Cretaceous of western Europe, the Late Jurassic of Tanzania, and the late Early Cretaceous of the USA, although remains from elsewhere might ultimately demonstrate that the group had a near-global distribution.

Type: Article
Title: A turiasaurian sauropod dinosaur from the Early Cretaceous Wealden Supergroup of the United Kingdom
Open access status: An open access version is available from UCL Discovery
DOI: 10.7717/peerj.6348
Publisher version: https://doi.org/10.7717/peerj.6348
Language: English
Additional information: © 2019 Mannion. This is an open access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, reproduction and adaptation in any medium and for any purpose provided that it is properly attributed. For attribution, the original author(s), title, publication source (PeerJ) and either DOI or URL of the article must be cited.
Keywords: Cretaceous, Eusauropoda, Wealden, Biogeography, Turiasauria, Jurassic/Cretaceous boundary, Laurasia, Mesozoic
UCL classification: UCL
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > UCL BEAMS
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > UCL BEAMS > Faculty of Maths and Physical Sciences
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > UCL BEAMS > Faculty of Maths and Physical Sciences > Dept of Earth Sciences
URI: https://discovery.ucl.ac.uk/id/eprint/10068545
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