Ichthyosauria from the Upper Lias of Strawberry Bank, England



Abstract:  Eight remarkably preserved specimens of ichthyosaurs from the lower Toarcian (Lower Jurassic) of Strawberry Bank (Ilminster, Somerset, England) are described fully for the first time. Whereas previously these ichthyosaurs were assigned to one species, Stenopterygius hauffianus, our study shows there are two, Stenopterygius triscissus and Hauffiopteryx typicus. S. triscissus is a small- to medium-sized ichthyosaur up to 3.5 m long, characterised by three apomorphies: long and slender rostrum, large elliptical supratemporal fenestra and bipartite pelvis. H. typicus is a small ichthyosaur up to 2.95 m long, with five apomorphies: short and extremely slender rostrum, very large orbit, small rounded supratemporal fenestra and tripartite pelvis, which is fused distally. Cladistic analysis is equivocal about their relationships, suggesting either that Hauffiopteryx and perhaps also Stenopterygius are members of a clade Eurhinosauria or that this clade does not exist, and both genera are members of a wider clade Thunnosauria. Further, the clade Stenopterygiidae, in which Hauffiopteryx had been located, is not identified. Most striking is that the specimens are all juveniles (five specimens) or infants (three specimens), ranging from one-tenth to one-half the normal adult length of the species.