Abstract

The site of Goulmima (south Morocco) is well known for its rich marine fauna of Turonian age (Late Cretaceous). It has yielded a large variety of invertebrates but also of vertebrate taxa, represented by actinopterygians and marine reptiles including Plesiosauria (Sauropterygia) and Mosasauroidea (Squamata). The Plesiosauria are known so far by two major clades of Plesiosauroidea: the Elasmosauridae (Libonectes atlasense Buchy, 2005) and the Polycotylidae (Thililua longicollis, Bardet, Suberbiola & Jalil, 2003a; Manemergus angirostris Buchy, Metayer & Frey, 2005). Here we describe a new specimen of plesiosaur found in the same outcrop, differing from those previously cited and belonging to the other large plesiosaur clade, the Pliosauroidea. Comparison of this specimen with other Plesiosauria shows that it belongs to Brachauchenius lucasi Williston (1903), a species previously known only from the Cenomanian–Turonian stages of the Western Interior Seaway of North America and in the upper Barremian succession of northern South America (Colombia). The description of this species on a contemporaneous site of North Africa significantly expands its palaeobiogeographic distribution. This discovery confirms the affinities between marine faunas of the Western Interior Seaway and those of North Africa at this time, and also permits a better understanding of the palaeobiology of the Goulmima outcrop. A discussion about the systematical status of Polyptychodon Owen, 1841 is also provided.

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