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      The new ichthyosauriform Chaohusaurus brevifemoralis (Reptilia, Ichthyosauromorpha) from Majiashan, Chaohu, Anhui Province, China

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          Abstract

          A new species of ichthyosauriform is recognized based on 20 specimens, including nearly complete skeletons, and named Chaohusaurus brevifemoralis. A part of the specimens was previously identified as Chaohusaurus chaoxianensis and is herein reassigned to the new species. The new species differs from existing species of Chaohusaurus in a suite of features, such as the bifurcation of the caudal peak neural spine and a short femur relative to trunk length. The specimens include both complete and partially disarticulated skulls, allowing rigorous scrutiny of cranial sutures. For example, the squamosal does not participate in the margin of the upper temporal fenestra despite previous interpretations. Also, the frontal unequivocally forms a part of the anterior margin of the upper temporal fenestra, forming the most medial part of the anterior terrace. The skull of the holotype largely retains three-dimensionality with the scleral rings approximately in situ, revealing that the eyeball was uncovered in two different directions, that is, laterally and slightly dorsally through the main part of the orbit, and dorsally through the medial extension of the orbit into the skull roof. This skull construction is likely a basal feature of Ichthyosauromorpha. Phylogenetic analyses place the new species as a sister taxon of Chaohusaurus chaoxianensis.

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          EVOLUTION OF FISH-SHAPED REPTILES (REPTILIA: ICHTHYOPTERYGIA) IN THEIR PHYSICAL ENVIRONMENTS AND CONSTRAINTS

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            A basal ichthyosauriform with a short snout from the Lower Triassic of China.

            The incompleteness of the fossil record obscures the origin of many of the more derived clades of vertebrates. One such group is the Ichthyopterygia, a clade of obligatory marine reptiles that appeared in the Early Triassic epoch, without any known intermediates. Here we describe a basal ichthyosauriform from the upper Lower Triassic (about 248 million years ago) of China, whose primitive skeleton indicates possible amphibious habits. It is smaller than ichthyopterygians and had unusually large flippers that probably allowed limited terrestrial locomotion. It also retained characteristics of terrestrial diapsid reptiles, including a short snout and body trunk. Unlike more-derived ichthyosauriforms, it was probably a suction feeder. The new species supports the sister-group relationships between ichthyosauriforms and Hupehsuchia, the two forming the Ichthyosauromorpha. Basal ichthyosauromorphs are known exclusively from south China, suggesting that the clade originated in the region, which formed a warm and humid tropical archipelago in the Early Triassic. The oldest unequivocal record of a sauropterygian is also from the same stratigraphic unit of the region.
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              Eel-like swimming in the earliest ichthyosaurs

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                Author and article information

                Contributors
                Journal
                PeerJ
                PeerJ
                PeerJ
                PeerJ
                PeerJ
                PeerJ Inc. (San Diego, USA )
                2167-8359
                9 September 2019
                2019
                : 7
                Affiliations
                [1 ]Department of Research, Anhui Geological Museum , Hefei, Anhui, People’s Republic of China
                [2 ]Department of Earth and Planetary Sciences, University of California , Davis, CA, USA
                [3 ]Department of Geology, Peking University , Beijing, People’s Republic of China
                [4 ]Dipartimento di Scienze della Terra, Università degli Studi di Milano , Milano, Italia
                [5 ]Center of Integrative Research, The Field Museum , Chicago, IL, USA
                Article
                7561
                10.7717/peerj.7561
                6741286
                016f19c2-bdae-4e36-b9f7-51a90e5d8d6b
                © 2019 Huang et al.

                This is an open access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, reproduction and adaptation in any medium and for any purpose provided that it is properly attributed. For attribution, the original author(s), title, publication source (PeerJ) and either DOI or URL of the article must be cited.

                Funding
                Funded by: Ministry of Land and Resources of China
                Award ID: 201511054
                Funded by: National Geographic Society Committee for Research and Exploration
                Award ID: 8669-09
                Funded by: National Natural Science Foundation of China
                Award ID: 40920124002 and 41372016
                Funded by: State Key Laboratory of Palaeobiology and Stratigraphy, Nanjing Institute of Geology and Palaeontology, CAS
                Award ID: 123102
                This work was supported by the Ministry of Land and Resources of China (Project 201511054), the National Geographic Society Committee for Research and Exploration (No. 8669-09), the National Natural Science Foundation of China (Projects 40920124002 and 41372016), and the State Key Laboratory of Palaeobiology and Stratigraphy, Nanjing Institute of Geology and Palaeontology, CAS (Project 123102). The funders had no role in study design, data collection and analysis, decision to publish, or preparation of the manuscript.
                Categories
                Paleontology
                Taxonomy

                early triassic,ichthyosauromorpha,chaohusaurus brevifemoralis,majiashan,chaohu,anhui province

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