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Earliest North American occurrence of Polycotylidae (Sauropterygia: Plesiosauria) from the Lower Cretaceous (Albian) Clearwater Formation, Alberta, Canada

  • Patrick S. Druckenmiller (a1) and Anthony P. Russell (a2)

Extract

The polycotylidae is a family of short-necked (pliosauromorph) plesiosaurs, with examples known from epicontinental marine deposits of every major landmass except Antarctica. Our knowledge of its diversity and distribution has increased tremendously in the last decade, with new material described from North America (Sato, 2005; Albright et al., 2007; Schumacher, 2007; Schmeisser, 2008), South America (Gasparini and de la Fuente, 2000; Salgado et al., 2007), Africa (Bardet et al., 2003; Buchy et al., 2005), and Asia (Sato and Storrs, 2000; Arkhangel'skii et al., 2007). Polycotylid diversity is greatest in the Late Cretaceous, and particularly so in the Turonian; however, knowledge of the group's initial history in the Early Cretaceous is limited to a handful of specimens from North America (Storrs, 1981; Druckenmiller, 2002) and Australia (Kear 2003, 2005).

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