Abstract

A partial skeleton of a short-necked plesiosaur excavated from the Upper Cenomanian of the Middle Yezo Group of Hokkaido, Japan, includes disarticulated vertebrae, the right half of the pectoral girdle, fragments of the pelvic girdle, ribs, gastralia, and gastroliths. Gastroliths are unusual in short-necked plesiosaurs. Skeletal characters indicate that the specimen belongs to the Family Polycotylidae, well known from North America, the former Soviet Republics, and possibly from New Zealand. They are rare in East Asia and hitherto unknown from Japan. Extensive ossification indicates that this specimen is an adult individual, yet it is smaller than the adult specimens of other known polycotylids. The elongated epipodial bones are a unique character of the specimen but are probably plesiomorphic. The fossil is evidence of biogeographical diversification of the family at the beginning of the Late Cretaceous.

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