A wild chase for a giant marine crocodile from the Cretaceous of northern Africa
Tetsuto Miyashita, Ph. D. candidate, Department of Biological Sciences, University of Alberta
Mount Royal University, Room B108
May 12, 7:30 pm
In 2014, the Italy-Tunisia Tataouine Project discovered a skull and articulated skeleton of a large teleosaurid crocodile from the Lower Cretaceous rocks south of Tataouine, Tunisia. The new teleosaurid, Machimosaurus rex, validates skepticism toward some aspects of the end-Jurassic extinction event: at least these marine crocodiles did not go extinct across that boundary. Phylogenetic analysis supports its placement closer to M. hugii and M. mosae than M. buffetauti. With the skull length up to 160 cm and an estimated body length of 10 m (or somewhat less), M. rex is the largest known thalattosuchian, and the largest known crocodylomorph in its time. This giant thallatosuchian was probably an ambush predator in the lagoonal environments that characterized the Tethyan margin of Africa during the earliest Cretaceous. Whether the Jurassic-Cretaceous mass extinction was real or artefact continues to be debated. The discovery of M. rex supports that the end-Jurassic crisis affected primarily Laurasian biota and its purported magnitude is most likely biased by the incomplete Gondwanan fossil record. The faunal turnovers during the J-K transition are likely interpreted as local extinction events, triggered by regional ecological factors, and survival of widely-distributed and eurytypic forms by means of habitat tracking.
Tetsuto Miyashita is a PhD candidate at the Department of Biological Sciences, University of Alberta under the supervision of Richard Palmer and Philip Currie. Tetsuto has given talks for APS in the past on early vertebrate evolution, Devonian vertebrate localities of Atlantic Canada, tyrannosaurid systematics, and Jurassic sauropods from China, and his research interests include all of the above, plus recently cultivated topics such as dinosaur remains trapped in Cretaceous ambers and developmental genetics of living fish. Tetsuto is a Vanier and Killam scholar, an alumnus of Embryology at the Marine Biological Laboratory, and recently a visiting researcher at California Institute of Technology (2015-2016) and Museum national d'Histoire naturelle, Paris (2014-2015).
This event is presented jointly by the Alberta Palaeontological Society, the Department of Earth and Environmental Sciences at Mount Royal University, and the Palaeontology Division of the Canadian Society of Petroleum Geologists. For details or to present a talk in the future, please contact CSPG Palaeontology Division Chair Jon Noad at firstname.lastname@example.org or APS Coordinator Harold Whittaker at 403-286-0349 or contact email@example.com. Visit the APS website for confirmation of event times and upcoming speakers: http://www.albertapaleo.org/