A three-dimensional skeleton of Goniopholididae from the Late Jurassic of Portugal: implications for the Crocodylomorpha bracing system

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Abstract

We here describe an articulated partial skeleton of a small neosuchian crocodylomorph from the Lourinhã Formation (Late Jurassic, Portugal). The skeleton corresponds to the posterior region of the trunk and consists of dorsal, ventral and limb osteoderms, dorsal vertebrae, thoracic ribs and part of the left hindlimb. The paravertebral armour is composed of two rows of paired osteoderms with the lateral margins ventrally deflected and an anterior process for a ‘peg and groove’ articulation. We also compare its dermal armour with that of several Jurassic and Cretaceous neosuchian crocodylomorphs, establishing a detailed description of this type of osteoderms.
These features are present in crocodylomorphs with a closed paravertebral armour bracing system. The exceptional 3D conservation of the specimen, and the performance of a micro-CT scan, allowed us to interpret the bracing system of this organism to assess if previous models were accurate. The characters observed in this specimen are congruent with Goniopholididae, a clade of large neosuchians abundant in most semi-aquatic ecosystems from the Jurassic and Early Cretaceous of Laurasia. However, its small size, contrasted with the sizes observed in goniopholidids, left indeterminate whether it could have been a dwarf or juvenile individual. Future histological analyses could shed light on this.
Original languageEnglish
JournalZoological Journal Of The Linnean Society
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 31 Oct 2019

Keywords

  • crocodiles
  • Neosuchia
  • osteoderms
  • Lourinhã Formation

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