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A New Long-Necked Turtle, Laganemys tenerensis (Pleurodira: Araripemydidae), from the Elrhaz Formation (Aptian–Albian) of Niger

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Morphology and Evolution of Turtles

Abstract

An articulated skull and postcranial skeleton of a pelomedusoid turtle, Laganemys tenerensis gen. et sp. nov., is described from the Lower Cretaceous (Aptian–Albian) Elrhaz Formation in Niger. Laganemys has a proportionately long skull, which increases in depth anteriorly, from the occiput to the snout. The thin flat carapace and plastron are covered with fine sulcus-and-ridge texture. The carapace has a deep nuchal embayment anteriorly, a small mesoplastron laterally, and three median fenestrae. The cervical series is nearly as long as the carapace with specialized joints to enhance lateral flexion between cervicals 2 and 3 and cervicals 6 and 7. The relatively long tail is composed of at least 26 vertebrae. Forelimbs and hind limbs have long and relatively straight unguals. Discovered in a fluvial setting, Laganemys would have been an adept long-necked aquatic predator in still waters. A suite of derived features unites Laganemys tenerensis with Araripemys barretoi, a pelomedusoid from northeastern Brazil of similar form, habits and geologic age. These genera provide additional evidence of faunal exchange between South America and Africa in the mid Cretaceous (ca. 110 Mya) prior to the advent of deep waters in the central Atlantic Ocean.

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Acknowledgments

We would like to thank C. Abraczinskas for executing Figs. 14.2, 14.3, 14.4, 14.11 and 14.24 and for her assistance in layout and formatting of the other figures, R. Masek of the Fossil Lab at the University of Chicago for his extraordinary preparation of the specimen, E. S. Gaffney and F. de Broin de Lapparent for access to specimens in their care and discussions on fossil turtles, the personnel of the High-Resolution X-ray Computed Tomography Facility at The University of Texas at Austin for CT scans of the skull, the field crew of the 2000 Expedition to Niger for discovery of the specimen, and A. Maga and O. Ide of the Institut de Recherche en Sciences Humaines, University of Niamey, Niger, for support and permission for field work. This research was supported by the Biological Sciences Collegiate Division at the University of Chicago and the Association for Women in Science (to SJE) and by the Packard Foundation, the Whitten-Newman Foundation, and the Island Fund of the New York Community Trust (to PCS). The manuscript was reviewed by M. P. J. Ryan, E. S. Gaffney, and T. Konishi.

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Appendix

Appendix

Character scores used in this analysis for Laganemys tenerensis gen. et sp. nov. and Araripemys barretoi.

(A) Character scores for Laganemys tenerensis gen. et sp. nov. for 175 characters in the analysis of Gaffney et al. (2006), all scored from the holotypic skeleton (MNN GAD28).

1111000010001210101000000001110100000033000??1?1013000020101111111100110030011011111?00?011000001100000?13?1102110001000001111210???1???11421?022111212111?2?2011110001?10120?5

(B) Character states for Araripemys barretoi altered from those given in Gaffney et al. (2006).

  • Character 30: state 0 changed to state 1.

  • Character 40: state 0 to state 3.

  • Character 147: state 3 to ?.

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Sereno, P.C., ElShafie, S.J. (2013). A New Long-Necked Turtle, Laganemys tenerensis (Pleurodira: Araripemydidae), from the Elrhaz Formation (Aptian–Albian) of Niger . In: Brinkman, D., Holroyd, P., Gardner, J. (eds) Morphology and Evolution of Turtles. Vertebrate Paleobiology and Paleoanthropology. Springer, Dordrecht. https://doi.org/10.1007/978-94-007-4309-0_14

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