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Johan Lindgren

Johan Lindgren

Senior lecturer

Johan Lindgren

Soft tissue preservation in a fossil marine lizard with a bilobed tail fin

Author

  • Johan Lindgren
  • Hani F. Kaddumi
  • Michael J. Polcyn

Summary, in English

Mosasaurs are secondarily aquatic squamates that became the dominant marine reptiles in the Late Cretaceous about 98-66 million years ago. Although early members of the group possessed body shapes similar to extant monitor lizards, derived forms have traditionally been portrayed as long, sleek animals with broadened, yet ultimately tapering tails. Here we report an extraordinary mosasaur fossil from the Maastrichtian of Harrana in central Jordan, which preserves soft tissues, including high fidelity outlines of a caudal fluke and flippers. This specimen provides the first indisputable evidence that derived mosasaurs were propelled by hypocercal tail fins, a hypothesis that was previously based on comparative skeletal anatomy alone. Ecomorphological comparisons suggest that derived mosasaurs were similar to pelagic sharks in terms of swimming performance, a finding that significantly expands our understanding of the level of aquatic adaptation achieved by these seagoing lizards.

Department/s

  • Lithosphere and Biosphere Science

Publishing year

2013

Language

English

Publication/Series

Nature Communications

Volume

4

Document type

Journal article

Publisher

Nature Publishing Group

Topic

  • Geology

Status

Published

ISBN/ISSN/Other

  • ISSN: 2041-1723