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Fossil isopod crustaceans in the suborder Phreatoicidea have a known stratigraphic range from the Carboniferous to the Jurassic. Until now, all Mesozoic records of this group were thought to occur in fresh water habitats. A new phreatoicidean isopod fossil of the Triassic Luoping marine fauna, Yunnan Province, China, is described. The new species, based on several exceptionally complete specimens, is assigned to the genus Protamphisopus Nicholls and the family Amphisopidae Nicholls. This Chinese record is the first report of a Mesozoic-age phreatoicidean isopod outside of Gondwanan terranes, requiring a revision of known biogeographic patterns of the Phreatoicidea. Whether this record is from a marine habitat or is the result of a secondary deposition is not certain. Sottyella Racheboef, Schram and Vidal from the Carboniferous (Stephanian) Lagerstätte of Montceaules-Mines that was assigned to this suborder may be a decapod. Therefore, it has no relationship to this new species.
The family Mixosauridae Baur, 1887 is a dominant group of Middle Triassic ichthyosaurs. Its generic composition has been controversial, but recent findings from southern China enabled Jiang et al. (2006) to recognize two monophyletic taxa within the clade, suggesting the presence of two genera within the family, namely Mixosaurus Baur, 1887 and Phalarodon Merriam, 1910. The latter genus, which was invalidated at one point (Nicholls et al., 1999; McGowan and Motani, 2003), was recently resurrected by Schmitz (2005) by validating its type species. Mixosaurus is Tethyan in distribution, whereas Phalarodon had been known mostly from North America and Spitsbergen, apart from a possible juvenile from Switzerland (Brinkmann, 1997, 1998). More recently, Jiang et al. (2003) reported a largely complete, yet poorly preserved skeleton as the first record of the genus Phalarodon from Asia and referred it to Phalarodon sp. However, important synapomorphies were not clearly identified, and evidence has since emerged that the specimen had been tampered with by farmers after it was collected. In the light of the cladistic analysis by Jiang et al. (2006), the referral of the specimen to the genus Phalarodon is questionable.
Largocephalosaurus polycarpon Cheng et al. 2012a was erected after the study of the skull and some parts of a skeleton and considered to be an eosauropterygian. Here we describe a new species of the genus, Largocephalosaurus qianensis, based on three specimens. The new species provides many anatomical details which were described only briefly or not at all in the type species, and clearly indicates that Largocephalosaurus is a saurosphargid. It differs from the type species mainly in having three premaxillary teeth, a very short retroarticular process, a large pineal foramen, two sacral vertebrae, and elongated small granular osteoderms mixed with some large ones along the lateral most side of the body. With additional information from the new species, we revise the diagnosis and the phylogenetic relationships of Largocephalosaurus and clarify a set of diagnostic features for the Saurosphargidae Li et al. 2011. Largocephalosaurus is characterized primarily by an oval supratemporal fenestra, an elongate dorsal ‘rib-basket’, a narrow and elongate transverse process of the dorsal vertebrae, and the lack of a complete dorsal carapace of osteoderms. The Saurosphargidae is distinct mainly in having a retracted external naris, a jugal–squamosal contact, a large supratemporal extensively contacting the quadrate shaft, a leaf-like tooth crown with convex labial surface and concave lingual surface, a closed dorsal ‘rib-basket’, many dorsal osteoderms, a large boomerang-like or atypical T-shaped interclavicle. Current evidence suggests that the Saurosphargidae is the sister-group of the Sauropterygia and that Largocephalosaurus is the sister-group of the Saurosphargis–Sinosaurosphargis clade within the family.
The Yangtze Platform preserves relatively thick carbonate successions and excellent fossil records across the Ediacaran–Cambrian boundary interval. The intensely studied Meishucun section in East Yunnan was one of the Global Stratotype Section candidates for the Precambrian–Cambrian boundary. However, depositional breaks were suspected in the section and the first appearance of small shelly fossils could not be verified. The Laolin section located in NE Yunnan is more continuous and shows great potential for global correlation of carbon isotope features across the Precambrian–Cambrian boundary. However, the stratigraphic framework and correlations were controversial. We studied and systematically sampled the Laolin section and present here new carbon isotope data for this section. The Laolin section consists of, in ascending order, the Baiyanshao dolostone of the Dengying Formation, the Daibu siliceous dolostone, Zhongyicun dolomitic phosphorite, lower Dahai dolostone and upper Dahai limestone of the Zhujiaqing Formation, and the black siltstone of the Shiyantou Formation. Our data reveal a large negative δ13C excursion (−7.2‰, L1′) in the Daibu Member, which matches the previously published data for the Laolin section, and a large positive excursion (+3.5‰, L4) in the Dahai Member, which was not shown in the published data. The excursion L1′ correlates well with the similarly large negative excursion near the first appearance of small shelly fossils in Siberia and Mongolia. Similar magnitude excursions are also known from Morocco and Oman, for which there are no robust fossil constraints but from where volcanic ash beds have been dated precisely at 542 Ma, thus confirming a global biogeochemical event near the Ediacaran–Cambrian boundary. Our data also indicate that deposition was more continuous at the Laolin section compared with the Meishucun section, where there are no records of a comparable negative excursion near the Ediacaran–Cambrian boundary, nor any comparable positive excursion in the Dahai Member. Therefore, the Laolin section has proven potential to be a supplementary Global Stratotype Section for the Ediacaran–Cambrian boundary on the Yangtze Platform.
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