A giant Late Triassic ichthyosaur from the UK and a reinterpretation of the Aust Cliff ‘dinosaurian’ bones
OPEN PloS one | 10 Apr 2018
DR Lomax, P De la Salle, JA Massare and R Gallois
The largest reported ichthyosaurs lived during the Late Triassic (~235-200 million years ago), and isolated, fragmentary bones could be easily mistaken for those of dinosaurs because of their size. We report the discovery of an isolated bone from the lower jaw of a giant ichthyosaur from the latest Triassic of Lilstock, Somerset, UK. It documents that giant ichthyosaurs persisted well into the Rhaetian Stage, and close to the time of the Late Triassic extinction event. This specimen has prompted the reinterpretation of several large, roughly cylindrical bones from the latest Triassic (Rhaetian Stage) Westbury Mudstone Formation from Aust Cliff, Gloucestershire, UK. We argue here that the Aust bones, previously identified as those of dinosaurs or large terrestrial archosaurs, are jaw fragments from giant ichthyosaurs. The Lilstock and Aust specimens might represent the largest ichthyosaurs currently known.
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