greygirlbeast (greygirlbeast) wrote,

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Meet the beastie.

I forgot to mention that yesterday I finished reading "New information on the skull of Keichousaurus hui (Reptilia; Sauropterygia) with comments on sauropterygian interrelationships" by Robert Holmes, Yen-Nien Cheng, and Xiao-Chen Wu (JVP 28:1, pp. 76-84). Keichousaurus is a neat little beast, first recognized from the Triassic of China back in 1958, but poorly understood until recently. It now appears that Keichousaurus is probably a basal member of the Sauropterygia, the group of semi-aquatic and aquatic reptiles that included nothosaurs and plesiosaurs. It also occurred to me that I never show off any of my own thousands of fossil specimens in the journal, and it just so happens that I have in my collection a young specimen of Keichousaurus hui. I bought it in Manhattan back in the summer of 1997 at Maxilla and Mandible on Columbus Avenue. This tiny skeleton (behind the cut) measures about 17 mm., but is missing the tail. I did most of the preparation on it myself, exposing more of the pectoral girdle and fore- and hindlimbs than were visible when I purchased it. It likely came from Xingyi area of China's Guizhou Province, from beds of late Middle Triassic age (the Zhuganpo Member of the Falang Formation), dating from about 237 ± 2 Ma — 228 ± 2 Ma (million years ago), back when the dinosaurs were just getting their start on land. The basal dinosaurs Staurikosaurus, Guaibasaurus, Saturnalia, and Unaysaurus all date from roughly this stage of the Triassic, I believe. Anyway, yes, images behind the cut (photos by Spooky):

My specimen, exposed in ventral view (belly up). I suspect much of the skull is there, still unexposed. Head it towards the right, missing tail towards the left.

Detail. Note the well-preserved limbs, ribs, vertebrae, pectoral girdle, etc.

Probably not the most accurate life restoration (snurched from Wikipedia), but this should give you some idea of what a living Keichousaurus hui would have looked like. It seems unlikely they'd have been a uniform green (and, indeed, there's no reason to think they were any sort of green). Also, the skull was longer and lower.

Tags: paleo

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