Friday, January 27, 2006

Platypterygius longmani

Cranial morphology of Platypterygius longmani Wade, 1990 (Reptilia: Ichthyosauria) from the Lower Cretaceous of Australia. 2005. B. P. Kear. Zoological Journal of the Linnean Society,Vol 145: 583-622.

Image from HERE.

Abstract: Exceptionally well-preserved remains belonging to the Australian Early Cretaceous (Albian) ichthyosaur Platypterygius longmani Wade, 1990 are described in detail. The material is used to reconstruct some of the cranial musculature and provide a brief functional analysis of the skull and mandible. Preparation of specimens using acetic acid and application of high-resolution X-ray computed tomographic analyses has revealed many previously unrecorded anatomical details, including the absence of a coronoid and squamosal, and the presence of well-developed epipterygoid facets on the pterygoid and parietal (possibly indicating retention of an unossified epipterygoid element).

Reconstruction of the jaw musculature suggests a well-developed m. adductor mandibulae internus pterygoideus (serving to close the jaws against inertia and drag of the surrounding water), and possibly an m. intramandibularis (acting to accentuate static pressure along the elongate mandible when the jaws were closed).

Despite its large size (maximum total body length of around 7 m), the long, narrow snout of P. longmani (together with preserved gut contents) indicates selective feeding on relatively small prey such as fish, small tetrapods and probably cephalopods.