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- Spinicaudatan stratigraphic and sedimentologic occurrence
- Systematic Palaeontology
- Palaeoecological implications
- Biogeographic implications
Abstract: A new spinicaudatan genus and species, Ethmosestheria mahajangaensis gen. et sp. nov., is described from the Anembalemba Member (Upper Cretaceous, Maastrichtian) of the Maevarano Formation, Mahajanga Basin, Madagascar. This is the first spinicaudatan reported from the post-Triassic Mesozoic of Madagascar. The new species is assigned to the family Antronestheriidae based on the cavernous or sievelike ornamentation on the carapace. Of well-documented Mesozoic spinicaudatan genera, Ethmosestheria mahajangaensis is most closely related to Antronestheria Chen and Hudson from the Great Estuarine Group (Jurassic) of Scotland. However, relatively poor documentation of the ornamentation of most Gondwanan Mesozoic spinicaudatan species precludes detailed comparison among taxa. Ethmosestheria mahajangaensis exhibits ontogenetic trends in carapace growth: a change in carapace outline from subcircular/subelliptical to elliptical, and from very wide juvenile growth bands to narrow adult growth bands. Ornamentation style, however, does not vary with ontogeny. Ethmosestheria mahajangaensis individuals lived in temporary pools in a broad channel-belt system within a semiarid environment; preserved desiccation structures on carapaces indicate seasonal drying out of pools within the river system. Specimens of Ethmosestheria mahajangaensis are preserved with exquisite detail in debris flow deposits; these are the first spinicaudatans reported from debris flow deposits. These deposits also contain a varied vertebrate fauna, including dinosaurs, crocodyliforms, turtles, and frogs. Rapid entombment of the spinicaudatan carapaces likely promoted early fossil diagenesis leading to highly detailed preservation.