Faculté des sciences

The comparative osteology of Plesiochelys bigleri n. sp., a new coastal marine turtle from the Late Jurassic of Porrentruy (Switzerland)

Püntener​, Christian ; Anquetin, Jérémy ; Billon-Bruyat, Jean-Paul

In: PeerJ, 2017, vol. 5, p. e3482

During the Late Jurassic, several groups of eucryptodiran turtles inhabited the shallow epicontinental seas of Western Europe. Plesiochelyidae are an important part of this first radiation of crown-group turtles into coastal marine ecosystems. Fossils of Plesiochelyidae occur in many European localities, and are especially abundant in the Kimmeridgian layers of the Swiss Jura Mountains (Solothurn... More

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    Summary
    During the Late Jurassic, several groups of eucryptodiran turtles inhabited the shallow epicontinental seas of Western Europe. Plesiochelyidae are an important part of this first radiation of crown-group turtles into coastal marine ecosystems. Fossils of Plesiochelyidae occur in many European localities, and are especially abundant in the Kimmeridgian layers of the Swiss Jura Mountains (Solothurn and Porrentruy). In the mid-19th century, the quarries of Solothurn (NW Switzerland) already provided a large amount of fossil turtles, most notably Plesiochelys etalloni, the best-known plesiochelyid species. Recent excavations in the Porrentruy area (NW Switzerland) revealed new fossils of Plesiochelys, including numerous well-preserved shells with associated cranial and postcranial material.Out of 80 shells referred to Plesiochelys, 41 are assigned to a new species, Plesiochelys bigleri n. sp., including a skull–shell association. We furthermore refer 15 shells to Plesiochelys etalloni, and 24 shells to Plesiochelys sp. Anatomical comparisons show that Plesiochelys bigleri can clearly be differentiated from Plesiochelys etalloni by cranial features. The shell anatomy and the appendicular skeleton of Plesiochelys bigleri and Plesiochelys etalloni are very similar. However, a statistical analysis demonstrates that the thickness of neural bones allows to separate the two species based on incomplete material. This study furthermore illustrates the extent of intraspecific variation in the shell anatomy of Plesiochelys bigleri and Plesiochelys etalloni.