Abstract

A new specimen of the basal mosasaur Halisaurus platyspondylus from the Severn Formation of Prince Georges County, Maryland (Upper Cretaceous: middle Maastrichtian) represents the most complete partial skeleton of this uncommon taxon to be described to date. The characteristic dorsoventral compression of the vertebral centrum is most pronounced in the anterior trunk vertebrae, and the centra of the posterior trunk vertebrae exhibit proportions more similar to those in other mosasaurs such as Plioplatecarpus. The postorbitofrontal forms its primary contact with the frontal rather than the parietal, and the supraoccipital is firmly attached to the ventral side of the parietal. The plane of articulation between the parietals and supratemporal is neither vertical (as in Varanidae) nor horizontal (as in Mosasauridae), but forms an angle of about 55 degrees with the horizontal. The quadrate bears a long, ventrally-flared suprastapedial process but appears to lack an infrastapedial process. Close similarities in the structure of the frontal and parietal with “Clidastes sternbergii support referral of the latter to Halisaurus, but reference of Phosphorosaurus ortliebi to Halisaurus is questionable. Halisaurus has been recorded from the Santonian to the late Maastrichtian.

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