An articulated sauropterygian marine reptile from the Middle Triassic of the South-Iberian Palaeomargin, Betic Cordillera, Southeastern Spain

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A new Triassic small marine reptile has been found in the locality of Cehegín (Murcia, Southeastern Spain). The fossil remains mainly comprise moulds of the bones and some osseous fragments still embedded in the rock. These correspond to an articulated sauropterygian, being distinguishable the cervical vertebrae in one rock, while the other rock preserves the middle-inferior part of the body, being differentiated some dorsal, sacral and caudal vertebrae, the ribs, the gastralia, part of one forelimb, part of the hindlimbs and some pelvic elements that can be also intuited. The moulds of dorsal vertebrae, the ribs and the gastralia are overlapped, but it can be distinguished that the ribs are pachiostotic and the gastral ribs are constituted by different components (partite gastral ribs). The features of this reptile permit to refer it to Eosauropterygia. This discovery constitutes the most complete sauropterygian found, to date, in the South-Iberian Palaeomargin of the Tethys, and adds new information about the diversity and palaeogeographical distribution of Sauropterygia in the Middle Triassic, indicating that it was greater than previously believed.
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