Abstract

The hitherto poorly known forefin of Chensaurus chaoxianensis (Ichthyosauria) from the Lower Triassic (Spathian) is redescribed on the basis of the holotype and two new specimens. The humerus resembles that of Utatsusaurus hataii but is distinctive in having an emarginated anterior margin. The anteroproximal prominence of the radius is well developed, unlike that of other ichthyosaurs. All three specimens have five metacarpals and many phalanges, but only three carpals, which are identified as the ulnare, intermedium, and fourth distal carpal. These specimens show that delayed mesopodial ossification occurred in ichthyosaurs, at least in an early evolutionary stage. Because delayed mesopodial ossification is common among diapsids and is unknown in Jurassic ichthyosaurs, it was lost during the evolution of the Ichthyosauria. The osteogenic developmental axis appears to have continued into the fourth digit, as in other amniotes. The ossification pattern provides conclusive evidence to support the suggestion that the basal element of the fifth digit in Early Triassic ichthyosaurs is a metacarpal, rather than a carpal.

You do not currently have access to this article.