A new eusuchian crocodylomorph from the Cenomanian (Late Cretaceous) of Portugal reveals novel implications on the origin of Crocodylia

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Abstract

The fossil record of Eusuchia extends back to the Early Cretaceous (Barremian), with the English species Hylaeochampsa vectiana being the oldest known representative of the clade so far. However, the eusuchian record from the Barremian to the Santonian is scarce and fragmentary worldwide. Here we described a new eusuchian crocodylomorph based on a partial skull and lower jaw from the Early Upper Cenomanian of the Tentugal Formation, in the Baixo Mondego region, west-central Portugal. The specimen exhibits a series of characters not seen in other taxa, allowing its assignment to a new genus and species named Portugalosuchus azenhae gen. et sp. nov. The results of a cladistic analysis place this specimen within Crocodylia, as the sister taxon to all other non-gavialoid crocodylians. Therefore, this Portuguese specimen represents the only well-documented and valid eusuchian species in the Cenomanian in Europe, and may be the oldest representative of Crocodylia known so far, helping to fill a gap in the fossil record of Eusuchia from the Barremian to the Campanian. In addition, the discovery of this new taxon sheds light on the radiation of Eusuchia and the origin of Crocodylia, which probably took place in Europe.

Original languageEnglish
Article numberzly064
Pages (from-to)501-528
Number of pages28
JournalZoological Journal Of The Linnean Society
Volume186
Issue number2
Early online date6 Dec 2018
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 25 May 2019

Keywords

  • Crocodylomorpha
  • Eusuchia
  • Phylogeny
  • Systematics

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