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Late Palaeocene eusuchian remains from Mont de Berru, France, and the origin of the alligatoroid Diplocynodon

Abstract : Crocodilian remains from the late Palaeocene continental locality of Mont de Berru (Marne, France) offer the opportunity to reassess the taxonomic identity of the oldest diplocynodontid from Europe. Owing to significant morphological differences from previously described species of Diplocynodon, which include the presence of a splenial symphysis, a new species, Diplocynodon remensis sp. nov., is erected here. Its inclusion in a phylogenetic framework for Eusuchia leads to its positioning as a derived member of diplocynodontids. Diplocynodontidae are viewed as a basal alligatoroid taxon, and, because morphological affinities with the Late Cretaceous-early Eocene North American genus Borealosuchus were mentioned in earlier studies, a comparison amongst D.remensis sp. nov., Leidyosuchus, and Borealosuchus spp. is presented. Although D.remensis sp. nov. is the geologically oldest diplocynodontid, according to our results, it is not the phylogenetically most primitive. Other morphological discrepancies are highlighted, indicating that the topology recovered here is only tentative. From a biogeographical point of view, the appearance of Diplocynodon in Europe prior to the Palaeocene/Eocene boundary indicates that it did not disperse with North American taxa that reached Europe around the time of the Palaeocene-Eocene thermal maximum (PETM). Therefore, a pre-PETM dispersal from North America at the same times as other vertebrates with clear North American affinities also occurring in the Palaeocene of Europe cannot be excluded. The description of D.remensis sp. nov. adds substantial new, albeit conflicting, information, highlighting the need for a better phylogenetic framework with a revision of other critical taxa (Menatalligator, Borealosuchus) from the Palaeocene of Europe and North America.(c) 2014 The Linnean Society of London
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Jeremy E. Martin, Thierry Smith, France de Lapparent de Broin, Francois Escuillie, Massimo Delfino. Late Palaeocene eusuchian remains from Mont de Berru, France, and the origin of the alligatoroid Diplocynodon. Zoological Journal of the Linnean Society, 2014, 172 (4), pp.867--891. ⟨10.1111/zoj.12195⟩. ⟨hal-02350709⟩

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