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Data from: A new fossil marine lizard with soft tissues from the Late Cretaceous of Southern Italy

Citation

Paparella, Ilaria; Palci, Alessandro; Nicosia, Umberto; Caldwell, Michael W. (2018), Data from: A new fossil marine lizard with soft tissues from the Late Cretaceous of Southern Italy, Dryad, Dataset, https://doi.org/10.5061/dryad.6t4f27g

Abstract

A new marine lizard showing exceptional soft tissue preservation was found in Late Cretaceous deposits of the Apulian Platform (Puglia, Italy). Primitivus manduriensis gen. et sp. nov. is not only the first evidence of the presence of dolichosaurs in a Southern Italian Carbonate Platform, filling a paleogeographic gap in the Mediterranean Tethys, but also extends the range of this group to the upper Campanian – lower Maastrichtian. Our parsimony analysis recover a monophyletic non-ophidian pythonomorph clade, including Tetrapodophis amplectus at the stem of Mosasauroidea + Dolichosauridae, which together represent the sister group of Ophidia (modern and fossil snakes). Based on Bayesian Inference instead, Pythonomorpha is monophyletic, with Ophidia representing the more deeply nested clade, and the new taxon as basal to all other pythonomorphs. Primitivus displays a fairly conservative morphology in terms of both axial elongation of the trunk and limb reduction, and the coexistence of aquatic adaptations with features hinting at the retention of the ability to move on land, suggest a semi-aquatic lifestyle. The exceptional preservation of mineralized muscles, portions of the integument, cartilages, and gut content provides unique sources of information about this extinct group of lizards. The new specimen may represent local persistence of a relict dolichosaur population until almost the end of the Cretaceous in the Mediterranean Tethys, and demonstrates the incompleteness of our knowledge of dolichosaur temporal and spatial distributions.

Usage Notes

Funding

National Science Foundation, Award: no

Location

Puglia
Apulian Platform
Italy
Mediterranean Sea
Southern Italy