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Ichthyosaurs from the Jurassic of Skye, Scotland

Ichthyosaurs from the Jurassic of Skye, Scotland
Ichthyosaurs from the Jurassic of Skye, Scotland
Fossils of Mesozoic vertebrates are rare in Scotland, particularly specimens of marine reptiles such as plesiosaurs and ichthyosaurs. We describe a suite of ichthyosaur fossils from the Early to Middle Jurassic of Skye, which to our knowledge are the first ichthyosaurs from Scotland to be described and figured in detail. These fossils span approximately 30 million years, from the Sinemurian to the Bathonian, and indicate that ichthyosaurs were a major component of Scottish marine faunas during this time. The specimens include isolated teeth that could represent the most northerly known occurrences of the widespread Sinemurian species Ichthyosaurus communis, a characteristic component of the famous Lyme Regis faunas of England, suggesting that such faunas were also present in Scotland during the Early Jurassic. An associated humerus and vertebrae from Toarcian–Bajocian-aged deposits are named as a new genus and species of basal neoichthyosaurian, Dearcmhara shawcrossi. The taxonomic affinities of this taxon, which comes from a critical but poorly sampled interval in the fossil record, suggest that non-ophthalmosaurid neoichthyosaurians dominated European assemblages around the Early–Middle Jurassic boundary, and were later replaced by ophthalmosaurids, whose radiation likely took place outside Europe. Many of these specimens were collected by amateurs and donated to museum collections, a co-operative relationship essential to the preservation of Scotland’s fossil heritage.
0036-9276
43-55
Brusatte, S.L.
d21b22d7-1f2d-46a4-9a42-29689b07463b
Young, M.T.
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Challands, T.J.
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Clark, N.D.L.
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Fischer, V.
aca5dbab-dba2-4bdf-9d40-19e1d95a9caa
Fraser, N.C.
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Liston, J.J.
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MacFadyen, C.C.J.
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Ross, D.A.
a273f415-04f1-4de4-82b1-e3d5af65bbb8
Walsh, S.
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Wilkinson, M.
e0c80b8e-48d4-4dc7-b9a7-7d2c339555e4
Brusatte, S.L.
d21b22d7-1f2d-46a4-9a42-29689b07463b
Young, M.T.
4f6adb20-1dbe-4b3f-9967-461906801704
Challands, T.J.
02a0b3b0-eca8-49f8-b449-c31df597f917
Clark, N.D.L.
54f79d1f-79ce-4e61-bcac-b36d303b9d2a
Fischer, V.
aca5dbab-dba2-4bdf-9d40-19e1d95a9caa
Fraser, N.C.
cbc69c45-4501-44ba-bb42-e0d96c609792
Liston, J.J.
c90b0c70-718e-4733-8519-7a7a25a524ed
MacFadyen, C.C.J.
05a2d6d7-d37f-44a4-91e9-c2a7c8582cee
Ross, D.A.
a273f415-04f1-4de4-82b1-e3d5af65bbb8
Walsh, S.
fca4c802-3bb2-4a5b-a57d-742b781f0bd7
Wilkinson, M.
e0c80b8e-48d4-4dc7-b9a7-7d2c339555e4

Brusatte, S.L., Young, M.T., Challands, T.J., Clark, N.D.L., Fischer, V., Fraser, N.C., Liston, J.J., MacFadyen, C.C.J., Ross, D.A., Walsh, S. and Wilkinson, M. (2015) Ichthyosaurs from the Jurassic of Skye, Scotland. Scottish Journal of Geology, 51 (1), 43-55. (doi:10.1144/sjg2014-018).

Record type: Article

Abstract

Fossils of Mesozoic vertebrates are rare in Scotland, particularly specimens of marine reptiles such as plesiosaurs and ichthyosaurs. We describe a suite of ichthyosaur fossils from the Early to Middle Jurassic of Skye, which to our knowledge are the first ichthyosaurs from Scotland to be described and figured in detail. These fossils span approximately 30 million years, from the Sinemurian to the Bathonian, and indicate that ichthyosaurs were a major component of Scottish marine faunas during this time. The specimens include isolated teeth that could represent the most northerly known occurrences of the widespread Sinemurian species Ichthyosaurus communis, a characteristic component of the famous Lyme Regis faunas of England, suggesting that such faunas were also present in Scotland during the Early Jurassic. An associated humerus and vertebrae from Toarcian–Bajocian-aged deposits are named as a new genus and species of basal neoichthyosaurian, Dearcmhara shawcrossi. The taxonomic affinities of this taxon, which comes from a critical but poorly sampled interval in the fossil record, suggest that non-ophthalmosaurid neoichthyosaurians dominated European assemblages around the Early–Middle Jurassic boundary, and were later replaced by ophthalmosaurids, whose radiation likely took place outside Europe. Many of these specimens were collected by amateurs and donated to museum collections, a co-operative relationship essential to the preservation of Scotland’s fossil heritage.

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Published date: 11 January 2015
Organisations: Ocean and Earth Science

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Local EPrints ID: 377690
URI: https://eprints.soton.ac.uk/id/eprint/377690
ISSN: 0036-9276
PURE UUID: 04544680-03b7-4b50-97aa-13b76153fa83

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Date deposited: 03 Jun 2015 09:56
Last modified: 15 Jul 2019 21:17

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Contributors

Author: S.L. Brusatte
Author: M.T. Young
Author: T.J. Challands
Author: N.D.L. Clark
Author: V. Fischer
Author: N.C. Fraser
Author: J.J. Liston
Author: C.C.J. MacFadyen
Author: D.A. Ross
Author: S. Walsh
Author: M. Wilkinson

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