An enigmatic marine reptile, Hispaniasaurus cranioelongatus (gen. et sp. nov.) with nothosauroid affinities from the Ladinian of the Iberian Range (Spain)

Ana Marquez-Aliaga, Nicole Klein*, Matías Reolid, Pablo Plasencia, José A. Villena, Carlos Martinez-Perez

*Corresponding author for this work

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

4 Citations (Scopus)


An incomplete skull of a marine reptile with an atypical elongation of the postorbital region is described. The find comes from the Muschelkalk facies (Cañete Formation) of the Villora section (Iberian Range, Cuenca Province, Spain), characterised by a shallow marine (intertidal) environment and dated as Ladinian in age. The small skull has a rectangular shape, lacking, as preserved, upper temporal openings and a parietal foramen. The upper temporal openings might be secondarily closed. However, the absence of a parietal foramen and squamosals in the preserved part and the incompleteness of the pterygoids make a posteriorly postponed location of the upper temporal openings also conceivable. Teeth are all broken off but alveolar spaces indicate large and massive maxillary dentition. Micro-CT-data revealed a highly vascularised inner structure of the dorsal skull elements, which might indicate special feeding adaptations. Adding the new find to an existing phylogenetic analysis of Triassic marine reptiles reveals eosauropterygian, especially nothosauroid, affinities. However, morphological differences to nothosauroids justify the erection of a new genus and species for this enigmatic marine reptile. Its atypical morphology, without any extinct or modern analogue, fits well with the continuously increasing diversity of Triassic marine reptiles, exhibiting various specialised feeding strategies

Original languageEnglish
Number of pages11
JournalHistorical Biology
Early online date1 Aug 2017
Publication statusE-pub ahead of print - 1 Aug 2017


  • atypical skull morphology
  • elongated postorbital region
  • highly vascularised dorsal skull elements
  • new taxon
  • secondarily closed or posteriorly postponed upper temporal openings
  • Triassic marine reptiles


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