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      The pachypleurosaurids (Reptilia: Nothosauria) from the middle triassic of Monte San Giorgio (Switzerland) with the description of a new species.

      Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society B: Biological Sciences

      Switzerland, physiology, classification, anatomy & histology, Reptiles, Phylogeny, Paleontology, Male, Fossils, Female, Animals

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          The largest and most diverse collection of Pachypleurosauridae (Nothosauria, Reptilia) comes from Monte San Giorgio, Switzerland. Several hundred complete skeletons were collected from four distinct horizons of bituminous limestones and shales of Anisian-Ladinian boundary to early Ladinian age (Middle Triassic). Serpianosaurus mirigiolensis comes from the oldest strata, the Grenzbitumenzone Beds. The three younger strata, all in the Lower Meride Limestone, yield three species of Neusticosaurus. Neusticosaurus pusillus comes from the Cava Inferiore horizon, Neusticosaurus peyeri, new species, from the Cava Superiore horizon, and Neusticosaurus edwardsii, new combination, from the Alla Cascina horizon. Neusticosaurus pusillus is biostratigraphically important because it is one of the rare species reported from both the Germanic and the Alpine Triassic. Neusticosaurus pusillus and N. peyeri are small and very similar in their anatomy. Neusticosaurus species are easiest separated by their number of presacral vertebrae. Ornamentation of the bone surface is distinctive for all four pachypleurosaurids. Soft parts are rarely preserved, except for one partial squamation. The biological age of Neusticosaurus individuals can be determined by skeletochronology (aging by bone annuli). Small species of Neusticosaurus were sexually mature after three to four years and lived for six to nine years. Taphonomic analysis of the small species indicates attritional mortality and suggests weak bottom currents in the Monte San Giorgio basin during early Ladinian times. Morphometric comparison of all four pachypleurosaurids indicates that the changing vertebral numbers between species are largely due to a change in number of segments. All Monte San Giorgio pachypleurosaurids are sexually dimorphic in forelimb development. Sex x has poorly differentiated and relatively short humeri whereas sex y has well differentiated and relatively long humeri. The sexes are of about the same size and represented in roughly equal numbers. Identification of gender was not possible. Good growth series, especially of Neusticosaurus peyeri, from embryo to large adult permitted qualitative and quantitative study of ontogeny. The skull grows with negative allometry; the humerus grows isometrically or with positive allometry, depending on sex and species; the femur grows isometrically. The adult size range in N. peyeri is considerably larger than in modern reptiles. The Monte San Giorgio pachypleurosaurids are a monophyletic group. The phylogeny of this group is congruent with the stratigraphic distribution of its members.

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