The first record of freshwater plesiosaurian from the Middle Jurassic of Gansu, NW China, with its implications to the local palaeobiogeography
Plesiosaurs are one of the common groups of aquatic reptiles in the Mesozoic, which mainly lived in marine environments. Freshwater plesiosaurs are rare in the world, especially from the Jurassic. The present paper reports the first freshwater plesiosaur, represented by four isolated teeth from the Middle Jurassic fluviolacustrine strata of Qingtujing area, Jinchang City, Gansu Province, Northwest China. These teeth are considered to come from one individual. The comparative analysis of the corresponding relationship between the body and tooth sizes of the known freshwater plesiosaur shows that Jinchang teeth represent a small-sized plesiosaurian. Based on the adaptive radiation of plesiosaurs and the palaeobiogeographical context, we propose a scenario of a river leading to the Meso-Tethys in the Late Middle Jurassic in Jinchang area, which may have provided a channel for the seasonal migration of plesiosaurs.