Pelagic neonatal fossils support viviparity and precocial life history of Cretaceous mosasaurs

Field, D. J. and Leblanc, A and Gau, A and Behlke, AD (2015) Pelagic neonatal fossils support viviparity and precocial life history of Cretaceous mosasaurs. Palaeontology, 58 (3). pp. 401-407. ISSN 0031-0239 DOI https://doi.org/10.1111/pala.12165

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Abstract

© The Palaeontological Association. Mosasaurs were large marine squamates that inhabited all of the world's oceans during the Late Cretaceous. Their success as apex predators has been attributed to their rapid acquisition of aquatic adaptations, which allowed them to become fully pelagic. However, little is known about the breeding biology of derived, flipper-bearing mosasaurs, as the record of neonatal mosasaur fossils is extremely sparse. Here, we report on the fragmentary cranial remains of two neonatal mosasaurs from the Niobrara Formation, referred to Clidastes sp. Comparison with other preliminary reports of neonatal mosasaurs reveals that these specimens are among the smallest individuals ever found and certainly represent the smallest known Clidastes specimens. The recovery of these extremely young specimens from a pelagic setting indicates that even neonatal mosasaurs occupied open oceanic habitats and were likely born in this setting. These data shed new light on the ecology of neonatal mosasaurs and illustrate the degree to which size-related taphonomic and collection biases have influenced our understanding of the early life history of these iconic marine reptiles.

Item Type: Article
Uncontrolled Keywords: NILAREP
Subjects: 04 - Palaeobiology
Divisions: 04 - Palaeobiology
Journal or Publication Title: Palaeontology
Volume: 58
Page Range: pp. 401-407
Identification Number: https://doi.org/10.1111/pala.12165
Depositing User: Sarah Humbert
Date Deposited: 08 Jan 2020 17:20
Last Modified: 08 Jan 2020 17:20
URI: http://eprints.esc.cam.ac.uk/id/eprint/4557

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