A new leptonectid ichthyosaur from the Lower Jurassic (Hettangian) of Nottinghamshire, England, UK, and the taxonomic usefulness of the ichthyosaurian coracoid


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<p>Thousands of ichthyosaurs have been discovered from the rich Lower Jurassic deposits of the UK, with the majority collected from along the Lyme Regis-Charmouth area of the Dorset coast. Here, I describe a new leptonectid ichthyosaur, <i>Wahlisaurus massarae</i> gen. et sp. nov., based on a partial skull and an incomplete skeleton collected from the Lower Jurassic (Hettangian) of Nottinghamshire, England. <i>Wahlisaurus</i> can be referred to the Leptonectidae through the possession of an extremely slender and delicate snout, and a mandible shorter than the snout which produces an overbite. This referral is supported by a phylogenetic analysis. The new taxon is distinguished from other ichthyosaurs through a unique combination of characters and autapomorphies of the pectoral girdle including the presence of both a scapular-coracoid foramen and a large and roughly ovoid coracoid foramen. A coracoid foramen has only previously been reported in the Triassic ichthyosaur <i>Cymbospondylus</i>. The peculiar coracoid morphology further highlights the taxonomic utility of coracoids in ichthyosaurs. The aforementioned features demonstrate that <i>W. massarae</i> cannot be referred to any currently recognized leptonectid. <i>Wahlisaurus</i> is the ninth Lower Jurassic ichthyosaur genus to be recognized worldwide, and the fifth documented in the Lower Lias Group.</p> <p><a href="http://zoobank.org/urn:lsid:zoobank.org:pub" target="_blank">http://zoobank.org/urn:lsid:zoobank.org:pub</a>:EE500E11-66AB-43C8-BB59-F21654763241</p>
Date made available16 Jun 2016

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