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A new enantiornithine bird is described on the basis of a well preserved partial skeleton from the Upper Cretaceous Qiupa Formation of Henan Province (central China). It provides new evidence about the osteology of Late Cretaceous enantiornithines, which are mainly known from isolated bones; in contrast, Early Cretaceous forms are often represented by complete skeletons. While the postcranial skeleton shows the usual distinctive characters of enantiornithines, the skull displays several features, including confluence of the antorbital fenestra and the orbit and loss of the postorbital, evolved convergently with modern birds. Although some enantiornithines retained primitive cranial morphologies into the latest Cretaceous Period, at least one lineage evolved cranial modifications that parallel those in modern birds.
A new xinjiangchelyid turtle, Kalasinemys prasarttongosothi n. gen. n. sp., is described on the basis of skull and shell material from the Upper Jurassic Phu Kradung Formation at Phu Noi locality, Kalasin Province, in NE Thailand. This second xinjiangchelyid turtle from Phu Noi is distinct from Phunoichelys thirakhupti by the smooth shell surface, the presence of a cervical notch, and vertebral 1 narrower than nuchal. The skull presents an arterial system characteristic of the Xinjiangchelyidae (basal Eucryptodira), and its outline is similar to that of Annemys spp. known from the Middle–Late Jurassic of China and Mongolia, but distinct from the latter mainly by the wider triturating surface, smaller foramen palatinum posterius and the shape of the prefrontal and frontal, as well as that of the basisphenoid and basioccipital. Based on the turtle assemblages, the correlation with mainland Asia further supports a Late Jurassic age for the lower part of the Phu Kradung Formation where Phu Noi site is located stratigraphically. Our study provides new insight on the evolution of the basal eucryptodiran turtles in Asia.
We describe here a new turtle from the early Eocene of Wutu, Shandong Province, China. This turtle with a full row of well-developed inframarginal scutes is assigned to the basalmost testudinoids while stem testudinoids were believed to disappear by the Palaeocene–Eocene boundary. This account shows that stem testudinoids crossed this boundary in their original range. The first comprehensive phylogenetic analysis of stem and modern testudinoids performed here demonstrates that the stem testudinoids, previously placed in the family ‘Lindholmemydidae’, do not form a monophyletic group, and the two major clades of testudinoids (Emydidae and Geoemydidae+Testudinidae) split one from another well before the Palaeocene/Eocene boundary, prior to the Late Cretaceous.
A new multidisciplinary research program, started in 1981, provided new data on the stratigraphy, fauna, and human industries, as well as the first results on paleomagnetism and sedimentology, for the Ternifine site in Algeria, which yielded the earliest hominid remains known in North Africa. The fossils were deposited in a swamp or lake surrounded by a very open, dry environment. The lake was fed by artesian springs that raised the underlying Miocene sands. Although nothing suggests a camp or butchery site, we discovered the first undisputable bone artifact in this site, the earliest known in this part of Africa. According to paleontological data, 700,000 yr B.P. is a likely age for the Ternifine deposits, which is consistent with the paleomagnetic results.
New material of Jiangxichelys ganzhouensis Tong & Mo, 2010, including four shells, is described, more fully documenting the morphology of the species. A partial skull associated with one of the shells is reported for the first time for that taxon. The new material reveals more similarities between J. ganzhouensis and ‘Zangerlia’ neimongolensis; the latter species is therefore included in the genus Jiangxichelys. The phylogenetic analyses continue to support the monophyly of the J. ganzhouensis, ‘Zangerlia’ neimongolensis, ‘Z.’ dzamynchondi and ‘Z.’ ukhaachelys clade and the separation of this clade from the type species of Zangerlia, Z. testudinimorpha as recently suggested. The close affinity between Jiangxichelys and ‘Zangerlia’ spp. provides new evidence for weak physical barriers against the dispersal of land vertebrates between southern China and northern China and Mongolia during latest Cretaceous times.
Thalattosuchians are crocodylomorphs mainly known from marine strata of Early Jurassic to Early Cretaceous age. They represent the earliest crocodylomorph radiation to an aquatic habitat and their evolutionary history offers very few records from freshwater settings. Here, we report several exquisitely preserved thalattosuchian skulls attributed to a derived teleosaurid from a pedogenic horizon located at the base of a fluvial series of alternating silts and sandstones of the Phu Kradung Formation (Upper Jurassic) of northeastern Thailand. Using laser ablation multicollector inductively coupled mass spectrometry (MC-ICP-MS) on tooth enamel and dentine, we measured isotopic ratios of strontium (87Sr/86Sr) to test the habitat of these teleosaurids. In addition, Sr concentrations of the dental tissues were estimated from the calibrated signal intensities of the Sr isotope measurements. The dataset includes bioapatite (teeth or scales) of eight terrestrial and five aquatic vertebrates. Theropods exhibit lower Sr concentrations both in enamel and dentine compared to others groups, a pattern in accordance with the calcium biopurification process, which predicts that Sr concentrations in the body of vertebrates decrease up the trophic chain. It also excludes the possibility that diagenesis has completely overprinted the Sr isotope compositions of the fossil assemblage, which exhibits a homogeneous 87Sr/86Sr signature above the Late Jurassic seawater value. Values for teleosaurid teeth are in the range of other values for vertebrates in the continental assemblage and imply that these crocodylomorphs did not migrate between freshwater and marine habitats at least in the time constraint of the mineralizing tooth. This result represents the first demonstration that a population of teleosaurids was established for a prolonged time in a freshwater environment. Whether the ability of teleosaurids to inhabit freshwater habitats is a secondary adaptation or whether it is plesiomorphic and inherited from freshwater ancestors is discussed.
The vertebrate assemblage from the Early Cretaceous non-marine Xinlong Formation of the Napai Basin, in the south-western part of Guangxi Zhuang Autonomous Region (southern China), is reviewed. The assemblage includes chondrichthyans (at least six species of hybodont sharks including Hybodus, Thaiodus, Heteroptychodus and Acrorhizodus), actinopterygians (Halecomorphi and Ginglymodi), turtles (the adocid Shachemys and the carettochelyid Kizylkumemys), crocodilians (cf. Theriosuchus) and dinosaurs (the sauropods Fusuisaurus and Liubangosaurus, carcharodontosaurid and spinosaurid theropods, iguanodontians and a possible psittacosaurid). This assemblage shows many similarities to those from non-marine formations of the Khorat Group of north-eastern Thailand. It seems to be particularly close to that from the Khok Kruat Formation, considered as Aptian in age, as shown especially by sharks and turtles and by the presence of iguanodontians. An Aptian age is therefore proposed for the Xinlong Formation. A study of the stable oxygen and carbon isotope compositions of reptile apatite suggests that this part of South China experienced subtropical arid conditions during the deposition of the Xinlong Formation. In its composition, the vertebrate fauna from the Xinlong Formation seems to be more similar to coeval faunas from SE Asia than to assemblages from northern China (including the Jehol Biota). Although this may partly reflect different depositional and taphonomic environments (fluvial for the Xinlong Formation versus lacustrine for the Jehol Biota) it seems likely that, during Early Cretaceous time, southern China and SE Asia were part of a distinct zoogeographical province, different from that corresponding to northern China. This may be the result of both climatic differences (with relatively cool climates in northern China versus a subtropical climate in the south) and geographical barriers such as mountain chains.
A new genus and new species of primitive eucryptodiran turtle, Phunoichelys thirakhupti gen. et sp. nov., is described on the basis of shell remains from the lower part of the Phu Kradung Formation, at Phu Noi locality, Kalasin Province, NE Thailand. It is assigned to Xinjiangchelyidae on the basis of the marginals covering the lateral end of the costals and the anal scutes invading the hypoplastra. The new taxon is further characterized by a low and rounded carapace without a cervical notch; the whole carapace and plastron covered with a clear ornamentation consisting of tiny irregular vermiculated furrows; a complete neural series that reaches the suprapygal; a very wide and short cervical scute; relatively wide vertebral scutes; and a long first thoracic rib that extends along the full width of the first costal. The sutured plastron/carapace connection and the marginals covering the lateral end of the second to seventh costals suggest that the turtles from Phu Noi may be related to some primitive xinjiangchelyids from the Sichuan Basin. The discovery of a xinjiangchelyid turtle in the lower part of the Phu Kradung Formation supports a Late Jurassic age for that part of the formation.
Sinaspideretes wimani Young & Chow, 1953 was based on a single shell from the Jurassic red beds of the Sichuan Basin. Originally referred to Trionychidae but later tentatively assigned to Carettochelyidae, it was long thought to be the oldest representative of those families. The re-examination of the carapace and further preparation of the plastron of the holotype of S. wimani revealed a number of important characters which clearly exclude this taxon from both Trionychidae and Carettochelyidae, but unite it with the primitive trionychoid Yehguia tatsuensis (Ye, 1963). S. wimani is therefore considered as the basalmost member of Trionychoidae. Our study adds to the evidence from the fossil record for the antiquity of Trionychoidae, thus is in agreement with the early split of Trionychia (Trionychidae and Carettochelyidae) among the crown Testudines suggested by the molecular phylogeny of turtles.
A new species of Cuora, Cuora chiangmuanensis sp. nov., is described on the basis of a nearly complete shell with limb bones from the late Middle – early Late Miocene Chiang Muan Mine, Phayao Province (Northern Thailand). C. chiangmuanensis is distinguished from other fossil and living Cuora species mainly on the basis of its plastral morphology. Among fossil and extant Cuora taxa, the new species appears to be a missing link between the taxa from Southeast Asia and those from East Asia. It represents the earliest record of the genus and demonstrates that by 11–12 Ma, Asian box turtles were already present in Southeast Asia.
The turtle fauna of the Middle Jurassic Xiashaximiao Formation in the Sichuan Basin and the type series of Chengyuchelys baenoides Young & Chow, 1953 are revised. By the absence of a mesoplastron and other shell characters, both the holotype and paratype of Chengyuchelys baenoides belong to the family Xinjiangchelyidae and come probably from the Upper Jurassic Shangshaximiao Formation. The Middle Jurassic turtle assemblage of the Sichuan Basin is composed of two entities: the Bashuchelyidae fam. nov. (Bashuchelys gen. nov., Chuannanchelys gen. nov.) and Protoxinjiangchelys gen. nov. on the one hand, and Sichuanchelys on the other hand, with the former as the dominant group. Bashuchelyids and xinjiangchelyids are closely related to one another, while Sichuanchelys is more primitive and has no shared apomorphic features with bashuchelyids. The whole assemblage appears to be endemic to the Sichuan Basin at genus level and distinct from the Late Jurassic turtle fauna of the same basin in its relict nature and absence of the Polycryptodira.
The continental deposits of the Upper Cretaceous (Santonian) Csehbánya Formation of the Bakony Mountains in Hungary yielded abundant remains of a bothremydid side-necked turtle, which are attributed to a new species of the genus Foxemys, Foxemys trabanti. F. trabanti shows strong affinities with the European monophyletic group Foxemydina owing to the absence of pits in the upper and lower triturating surfaces, the exclusion of the jugal from the triturating surface, the separation of the Eustachian tube and the stapes by a narrow fissure, the presence of deep and narrow fossa pterygoidei, the partially closed foramen jugulare posterius and the pentagonal shape of the basisphenoid in ventral view. Among the Foxemydina the bothremydid from Iharkút is more closely related to F. mechinorum than to Polysternon provinciale from the Early Campanian of France, mainly because of the position of the occipital condyle relative to the mandibular condyles of the quadrate. The new remains represent the only record of the Foxemydina outside of Western Europe and provide the earliest known occurrence of this endemic, freshwater group in the former Mediterranean Basin. The historical biogeography of the tribe Bothremydini is investigated and a hypothesis of migration from Africa to North America via the high-latitude Thulean route is put forward.
A new taxon of nanhsiungchelyid turtle, Jiangxichelys ganzhouensis n. g. n. sp., is described on the basis of a complete shell from the latest Cretaceous of Ganzhou, Jiangxi Province, China. It is close to Hanbodgemys, but different from the latter in having a boot-shaped second marginal scute reaching the first vertebral scute, a larger first suprapygal, a large fifth vertebral extending onto the tenth peripheral, narrower lateral marginal scutes and a narrower posterior plastral lobe. This discovery adds a new element to the scanty record of nanhsiungchelyids from southern China and illustrates the diversity of the family in that area.
Fossil vertebrates from the Cabao Formation discovered in the area of Nalut in northwestern Libya include the hybodont shark Priohybodus, the crocodilian Sarcosuchus, an abelisaurid, a baryonichine spinosaurid and a large sauropod with spatulate teeth. The Cabao Formation may be Hauterivian to Barremian in age, although an earlier Berriasian to Valanginian age cannot be excluded. Its dinosaur assemblage is reminiscent of that of the El Rhaz and Tiouraren formations of Niger and strongly differs from both the Cenomanian assemblages of Morocco and Egypt and the Late Aptian to Albian fauna of Tunisia. Fossil vertebrates may be an important tool to establish the stratigraphical framework of the poorly dated Early Cretaceous continental deposits of Africa.
Two temnospondyl intercentra from non-marine middle Jurassic rocks at Mab Ching, in the southern peninsula of Thailand, are the first remains of post-Triassic labyrinthodont amphibians to be reported from the Shan-Thai block. They closely resemble an intercentrum recently reported from the middle Jurassic of the Khorat Plateau of northeastern Thailand, which is part of the Indochina block. Although the Mab Ching specimens are too fragmentary to warrant a precise identification, they confirm that temnospondyl amphibians were widespread on the various Asian continental blocks in the Jurassic.
Teeth from the Early Cretaceous Napai Formation of Fusui County, Guangxi Zhuang Autonomous Region (South China), initially described as the sauropterygian Sinopliosaurus fusuiensis, are redescribed as belonging to a spinosaurid theropod closely allied to Siamosaurus suteethorni, from the Early Cretaceous of Thailand. This identification extends to China the geographical range of Asian spinosaurs, previously reported from Thailand and Japan.
A new genus and species of primitive cryptodiran turtle, Siamochelys peninsularis n. g. n.
sp., from the Middle Jurassic Mab Ching locality, in the southern peninsula of Thailand, is described
on the basis of complete shells. They are characterized by a combination of primitive features (the
presence of a pair of mesoplastra meeting on the midline) and a series of derived characters (loose
plastron–carapace attachment, short diamond-shaped entoplastron, dorsal thickening of the lateral
edge of the second to seventh peripheral plates, expanded seventh to eleventh peripheral plates, extension
of the anal scute to the hyo-hypoplastral suture or onto the hypoplastron, midline sulcus sinusoidal),
and thus closely resemble Chengyuchelys, from the Middle Jurassic of China, and more
particularly Xinjiangchelys and its relatives from the Middle and Late Jurassic of China and Central
Asia. This supports a Middle Jurassic age for the locality and suggests that the Sibumasu (Shan-Thai)
block was in contact with the Asian mainland by that time.
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