Swiss Journal of Palaeontology

, Volume 138, Issue 2, pp 337–342 | Cite as

Rare evidence of a giant pliosaurid-like plesiosaur from the Middle Jurassic (lower Bajocian) of Switzerland

  • Sven SachsEmail author
  • Christian Klug
  • Benjamin P. Kear
Regular Research Article


Here, we describe part of a large-bodied macrophagous plesiosaur jaw from the lower Bajocian (Middle Jurassic) Passwang Formation near Arisdorf in the Basel-Land canton of Switzerland. The specimen preserves the posterior glenoid extremity of the right mandibular ramus comprising the surangular, angular, articular, and probably the prearticular. Notable character states include a transversely expanded surangular that incorporates a prominent medial ridge adjacent to the glenoid and a shallow dorsal fossa, together with a conspicuous trough extending across the lateral surfaces of both the surangular and angular; there is also a basally broad and medially deflected retroarticular process. Collectively, these features suggest affinities with Middle–Late Jurassic pliosaurids, as well as some coeval rhomaleosaurids. Based on such comparisons, we estimate that the Passwang Formation mandible was approximately 1.5 m long when complete, and thus approaches the size range of the largest-known pliosaurids. This discovery supplements the sparse record of diagnostic pliosaurid-like remains from Switzerland and contributes to the currently incomplete knowledge of pre-Callovian Middle Jurassic plesiosaurs globally.


Plesiosauria Pliosauromorph Pliosauridae Rhomaleosauridae Bajocian Apex predator 



We are indebted to Dr. Hans Holenweg (Muttenz) for his generous donation of PIMUZ A/III0521 to the Paläontologisches Institut und Museum at the University of Zurich. Our manuscript benefitted from constructive reviews by Rodrigo Otero (Universidad de Chile) and Peggy Vincent (MNHN–CNRS–Sorbonne Université).


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Copyright information

© Akademie der Naturwissenschaften Schweiz (SCNAT) 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Naturkunde-Museum Bielefeld, Abteilung GeowissenschaftenBielefeldGermany
  2. 2.EngelskirchenGermany
  3. 3.Paläontologisches Institut und MuseumUniversity of ZurichZurichSwitzerland
  4. 4.Museum of EvolutionUppsala UniversityUppsalaSweden

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