Abstract

Reinvestigation of a partial vertebral column from the Kimmeridgian La Caja Formation of Mexico, housed in the University of Linares (Mexico), and previously attributed to a dinosaur, proves to be from a very large pliosaurid plesiosaur. This specimen represents the first plesiosaur described from the Jurassic of Mexico. Its length has been estimated at 15 metres and, as a juvenile, is considered to be one of the largest Jurassic marine reptiles. The remains of this animal are here described. The morphology of the vertebral column is not diagnostic beyond family level. Large pliosaur vertebrae of a similar size are known from the Upper Jurassic of Europe, and are often referred to the genera Liopleurodon or Simolestes but these identifications are based only upon the size of the centra and have no taxonomic justification. A portion of rostrum with teeth was discovered together with the vertebral column but is unfortunately now lost. The Mexican pliosaur fills geographical and chronological gaps between western Tethys and South American pliosaurs, and is an additional support to the hypothesis of a Hispanic corridor linking at least temporarily the NW European marine province with the western South American marine (Pacific) realm during the late Jurassic.

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