[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: The presence of gigantic apex predators in the eastern Panthalassic and western Tethyan oceans suggests that complex ecosystems in the sea had become re-established in these regions at least by the early Middle Triassic, after the Permian-Triassic mass extinction (PTME). However, it is not clear whether oceanic ecosystem recovery from the PTME was globally synchronous because of the apparent lack of such predators in the eastern Tethyan/western Panthalassic region prior to the Late Triassic. Here we report a gigantic nothosaur from the lower Middle Triassic of Luoping in southwest China (eastern Tethyan ocean), which possesses the largest known lower jaw among Triassic sauropterygians. Phylogenetic analysis suggests parallel evolution of gigantism in Triassic sauropterygians. Discovery of this gigantic apex predator, together with associated diverse marine reptiles and the complex food web, indicates global recovery of shallow marine ecosystems from PTME by the early Middle Triassic.
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Based on newly collected materials from the Lower Triassic Feixianguan Formation of Xiongwu section in Xingyi, Guizhou and the Ximatang Formation of Ximatang section in Qiubei, Yunnan, southern China, nine species belonging to seven genera are described. Two bivalve assemblages are recognized and regionally correlated in South China. The bivalve assemblage from the Feixianguan Formation of Xiongwu exhibits a higher diversity including eight species belonging to seven genera: Claraia griesbachi, Leptochondria virgalensis, Entolium (Entolium) microtis, Oxytoma scythicum, Bakevillia exporrecta, Posidonia sp., Unionites? fassaensis, and Unionites? sp. In contrast, the bivalve assemblage from the Ximatang Formation of Ximatang has a much lower diversity, consisting of only two species, i.e., Claraia griesbachi and Claraia radialis. Additionally, C. griesbachi and C. radialis, as the most common species of Claraia in the Early Triassic, are revised.
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: new genus of actinopterygian fish from the Anisian (Middle Triassic) of Luoping, Yunnan Province, Southwest China. Acta Palaeontologica Polonica 5X (X): xxx-xxx. doi:10.4202/app.2010.0089 The new neopterygian fish taxon Luoxiongichthys hyperdorsalis gen. et sp. nov. is established on the basis of five specimens from the second member of the Guanling Formation (Anisian, Middle Triassic) from Daaozi Quarry, Luoping, Yunnan Province, Southwest China. The new taxon is characterized by the following characters: triangular body outline with a distinct apex located between skull and dorsal fin; free maxilla; slender preopercular almost vertical; three suborbitals; at least eight strong branchiostegals with tubercles and comb-like ornamentation on the anterior margin; clavicles present; two postcleithra; ganoid scales covered by tubercles and pectinate ornamentation on the posterior margin with peg-and-socket structure; hemiheterocercal tail slightly forked. Comparison with basal actinopterygians reveals that the new taxon has parasemionotid-like triangular symplectics, but a semionotid opercular system. Cladistic analysis suggests that this new genus is a holostean, and either a basal halecomorph or basal semionotiform.
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: A new genus and species of Pachypleurosauria, Dianopachysaurus dingi, gen. et sp. nov., from a recently discovered Middle Triassic Lagerstätte in the Anisian Guanling Formation of Yunnan Province is described. The monophyly of Pachypleurosauria, including all potential Chinese pachypleurosaurs in this study, is supported by the rigorous cladistic analysis conducted here. Phylogenetic relationships of Chinese pachypleurosaurs are clarified. Wumengosaurus occupies the most basal position within Pachypleurosauria. Keichousaurus and Dianopachysaurus form the monophyletic Keichousauridae that is the sister group of all European pachypleurosaurs. Our cladistic analysis also supports a previously proposed paleobiogeographic hypothesis of an eastern Tethyan origin of pachypleurosaurs and their migration into the western Tethyan faunal province. The existence of a long ghost lineage as required by the paleobiogeographic hypothesis is greatly shortened by the discovery of Dianopachysaurus.
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Recent cladistic analyses have all suggested a diapsid origin of ichthyosaurs. However, an intermediate evolutionary stage of the lower temporal region of ichthyosaurian skull between basal diapsids and derived ichthyosaurs has been absent from the fossil record. Here we describe the cranial skeleton of a new mixosaurid ichthyosaur specimen with a well-preserved lower temporal region from the Anisian Guanling Formation of eastern Yunnan. It is characterized by the most primitive lower temporal region within known ichthyosaurs. The primitive characters of the lower temporal region include both external and internal separation between the jugal and the quadratojugal, an anterior process of the quadratojugal, an apparent posteroventral process of the jugal, and a large lower temporal opening surrounded by the jugal, the postorbital, the squamosal, and the quadratojugal. The lower temporal region of this specimen provides the most direct evidence to the diapsid origin of ichthyosaurs. It also suggests that the disappearance of the lower temporal fenestra is caused initially by the reduction of the lower temporal arcade rather than the enlargement of the surrounding bones.
Journal of Paleontology 01/2011; 85(1-1):32-36. DOI:10.1666/09-131.1 · 1.28 Impact Factor
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: The timing and nature of biotic recovery from the devastating end-Permian mass extinction (252 Ma) are much debated. New studies in South China suggest that complex marine ecosystems did not become re-established until the middle-late Anisian (Middle Triassic), much later than had been proposed by some. The recently discovered exceptionally preserved Luoping biota from the Anisian Stage of the Middle Triassic, Yunnan Province and southwest China shows this final stage of community assembly on the continental shelf. The fossil assemblage is a mixture of marine animals, including abundant lightly sclerotized arthropods, associated with fishes, marine reptiles, bivalves, gastropods, belemnoids, ammonoids, echinoderms, brachiopods, conodonts and foraminifers, as well as plants and rare arthropods from nearby land. In some ways, the Luoping biota rebuilt the framework of the pre-extinction latest Permian marine ecosystem, but it differed too in profound ways. New trophic levels were introduced, most notably among top predators in the form of the diverse marine reptiles that had no evident analogues in the Late Permian. The Luoping biota is one of the most diverse Triassic marine fossil Lagerstätten in the world, providing a new and early window on recovery and radiation of Triassic marine ecosystems some 10 Myr after the end-Permian mass extinction.
Proceedings of the Royal Society B: Biological Sciences 12/2010; 278(1716):2274-82. DOI:10.1098/rspb.2010.2235 · 5.05 Impact Factor
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: The fossil record of coelacanths is patchy, with very few taxa known from the Triassic of Asia. We report here two new genera and species of coelacanths from the Luoping Biota, a recently found site of exceptional fossil preservation from Yunnan, South China. The first new taxon, Luopingcoelacanthus eurylacrimalis, is based on four specimens, which together show most aspects of the anatomy. One specimen shows two small coelacanths inside the ventral portion of the abdominal cavity, and these are interpreted as intrauterine embryos, close to birth size, based on comparisons with previously reported embryos of the fossil coelacanths Rhabdoderma and Undina, and the extant genus Latimeria. Our new find extends the evidence for ovoviviparity in coelacanths back from the Late Jurassic to the Middle Triassic. The second new taxon, Yunnancoelacanthus acrotuberculatus, is based on one specimen, and differs from Luopingcoelacanthus in the dentary, lachrymojugal, number of rays of the first dorsal fin, and especially in the ornament on dermal bones and scales. A cladistic analysis shows that the new taxa are closest relatives to the derived clade Latimerioidei. The relatively high diversity of coelacanths in the Early Triassic, and adaptations of living Latimeria to low-oxygen conditions, suggests that the group may have included 'disaster taxa' that benefited from anoxic and dysoxic ocean conditions in the aftermath of the end-Permian mass extinction.