Rapid neck elongation in Sauropterygia (Reptilia: Diapsida) revealed by a new basal pachypleurosaur from the Lower Triassic of China

Qi-Ling Liu, Long Cheng*, Thomas L Stubbs, Benjamin C Moon, Michael J Benton, Chun-Bo Yan, lI Tan

*Corresponding author for this work

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

Abstract

Neck elongation has appeared independently in several tetrapod groups, including giraffes and sauropod dinosaurs on land, birds and pterosaurs in the air, and sauropterygians (plesiosaurs and relatives) in the oceans. Long necks arose in Early Triassic sauropterygians, but the nature and rate of that elongation has not been documented. Here, we report a new species of pachypleurosaurid sauropterygian, Chusaurus xiangensis gen. et sp. nov., based on two new specimens from the Early Triassic Nanzhang-Yuan'an Fauna in the South China Block. The new species shows key features of its Middle Triassic relatives, but has a relatively short neck, measuring 0.48 of the trunk length, compared to > 0.8 from the Middle Triassic onwards. Comparative phylogenetic analysis shows that neck elongation occurred rapidly in all Triassic eosauropterygian lineages, probably driven by feeding pressure in a time of rapid re-establishment of new kinds of marine ecosystems.

Original languageEnglish
Article number44
JournalBMC Ecology and Evolution
Volume23
Issue number1
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 31 Aug 2023

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
We are grateful for support from Grant DD20230006 from the China Geological Survey, Grant nos. 41972014, 42030513 and 42272361 from the National Natural Science Foundation of China, and Grant NE/P013724/1 from the Natural Environment Research Council of UK, European Research Council Grant 788203 (INNOVATION).

Publisher Copyright:
© 2023, BioMed Central Ltd., part of Springer Nature.

Keywords

  • Animals
  • China
  • Dinosaurs
  • Ecosystem
  • Giraffes
  • Phylogeny
  • Reptiles

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