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The Late Triassic fauna of the Lossiemouth Sandstone Formation (LSF) from the Elgin area, Scotland, has been pivotal in expanding our understanding of Triassic terrestrial tetrapods. Frustratingly, due to their odd preservation, interpretations of the Elgin Triassic specimens have relied on destructive moulding techniques, which only provide incomplete, and potentially distorted, information. Here, we show that micro-computed tomography (μCT) could revitalise the study of this important assemblage. We describe a long-neglected specimen that was originally identified as a pseudosuchian archosaur, Ornithosuchus woodwardi. μCT scans revealed dozens of bones belonging to at least two taxa: a small-bodied pseudosuchian and a specimen of the procolophonid Leptopleuron lacertinum. The pseudosuchian skeleton possesses a combination of characters that are unique to the clade Erpetosuchidae. As a basis for investigating the phylogenetic relationships of this new specimen, we reviewed the anatomy, taxonomy and systematics of other erpetosuchid specimens from the LSF (all previously referred to Erpetosuchus). Unfortunately, due to the differing representation of the skeleton in the available Erpetosuchus specimens, we cannot determine whether the erpetosuchid specimen we describe here belongs to Erpetosuchus granti (to which we show it is closely related) or if it represents a distinct new taxon. Nevertheless, our results shed light on rarely preserved details of erpetosuchid anatomy. Finally, the unanticipated new information extracted from both previously studied and neglected specimens suggests that fossil remains may be much more widely distributed in the Elgin quarries than previously recognised, and that the richness of the LSF might have been underestimated.
Dinosaur body fossil material is rare in Scotland, previously known almost exclusively from the Great Estuarine Group on the Isle of Skye. We report the first unequivocal dinosaur fossil from the Isle of Eigg, belonging to a Bathonian (Middle Jurassic) taxon of uncertain affinity. The limb bone NMS G.2020.10.1 is incomplete, but through a combination of anatomical comparison and osteohistology, we determine it most likely represents a stegosaur fibula. The overall proportions and cross-sectional geometry are similar to the fibulae of thyreophorans. Examination of the bone microstructure reveals a high degree of remodelling and randomly distributed longitudinal canals in the remaining primary cortical bone. This contrasts with the histological signal expected of theropod or sauropod limb bones, but is consistent with previous studies of thyreophorans, specifically stegosaurs. Previous dinosaur material from Skye and broadly contemporaneous sites in England belongs to this group, including Loricatosaurus and Sarcolestes and a number of indeterminate stegosaur specimens. Theropods such as Megalosaurus and sauropods such as Cetiosaurus are also known from these localities. Although we find strong evidence for a stegosaur affinity, diagnostic features are not observed on NMS G.2020.10.1, preventing us from referring it to any known genera. The presence of this large-bodied stegosaur on Eigg adds a significant new datapoint for dinosaur distribution in the Middle Jurassic of Scotland.
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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