A gigantic nothosaur (Reptilia: Sauropterygia) from the Middle Triassic of SW China and its implication for the Triassic biotic recovery

Jun Liu, Shi-Xue Hu, Olivier Rieppel, Da-Yong Jiang, Michael J Benton, Neil P Kelley, Jonathan C Aitchison, Chang-Yong Zhou, Wen Wen, Jin-Yuan Huang, Tao Xie, Tao Lv

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle (Academic Journal)peer-review

34 Citations (Scopus)
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Abstract

The presence of gigantic apex predators in the eastern Panthalassic and western Tethyan oceans suggests that complex ecosystems in the sea had become re-established in these regions at least by the early Middle Triassic, after the Permian-Triassic mass extinction (PTME). However, it is not clear whether oceanic ecosystem recovery from the PTME was globally synchronous because of the apparent lack of such predators in the eastern Tethyan/western Panthalassic region prior to the Late Triassic. Here we report a gigantic nothosaur from the lower Middle Triassic of Luoping in southwest China (eastern Tethyan ocean), which possesses the largest known lower jaw among Triassic sauropterygians. Phylogenetic analysis suggests parallel evolution of gigantism in Triassic sauropterygians. Discovery of this gigantic apex predator, together with associated diverse marine reptiles and the complex food web, indicates global recovery of shallow marine ecosystems from PTME by the early Middle Triassic.

Original languageEnglish
Article number7142
Number of pages9
JournalScientific Reports
Volume4
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 27 Nov 2014

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