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Bone histology of the Middle Jurassic turtle shell remains from Kirtlington, Oxfordshire, England




Torsten M. Scheyer [], Institute of Palaeontology, University of Bonn, Nussallee 8, D-53115 Bonn, Germany – current address: Paläontologisches Institut und Museum, Universität Zürich, Karl Schmid-Strasse 4, CH-8006 Zürich, Switzerland; Jérémy Anquetin [], Department of Palaeontology, The Natural History Museum, Cromwell Road, London SW7 5BD, UK; manuscript received on 08/06/07; and manuscript accepted on 05/09/07.


The Middle Jurassic (Bathonian) turtle material from the Mammal Bed at Kirtlington, Oxfordshire, England, has recently been tentatively referred to the Pleurosternidae, although the known synapomorphies of this clade were absent from the specimens. Here we present new evidence from shell bone histology that corroborates reports of pleurosternids at Kirtlington and further reveal that two different histomorphs (= two different taxa) are present in this locality. The first histomorph presents the distinctive histological structure of pleurosternids, which is described herein for the first time: the external cortical bone layers are differentiated into an inner zone of coarse, irregularly interwoven structural fibre bundles and an outer fine-fibred zone. The second histomorph has a more plesiomorphic structure and can only be assigned to Cryptodira indet. A morphological reassessment of the Kirtlington material fails to recognize two different taxa and shows that only sparse evidence supports the presence of pleurosternids in this locality. Shell bone histology thus appears as a powerful tool to study poorly preserved specimens and may in some case (like with pleurosternids) help resolve phylogenetic relationships. According to our results, the stratigraphic appearance of the Pleurosternidae is adjusted from the Kimmeridgian (Late Jurassic) to the Bathonian (Middle Jurassic), which significantly reduces the ghost lineage of Paracryptodira. inline image Bone histology, turtles, Paracryptodira, Pleurosternidae, Middle Jurassic, Kirtlington.