STL Science Center

STL Science Center

22 November 2016

A Day of Papers

Shastasaurus is a complex animal and because of the complexities associated with this giant marine reptile there have been a lot of different studies, descriptions, and research delving into the life, anatomy, and phylogeny of Shastasaurus. There are key papers that are more important than others, as is usually the case, that possess more information critical to better understanding of extinct taxa. In this case there are two papers describing potential (and debatable) species of Shastasaurus. These two species are from New Mexico and British Columbia respectively. New Mexico's species, S. altispinus is from the Upper Triassic and was described in 1989. The species from British Columbia, S. neoscapularis, was touted as the exemplar of the genus in 1994. However, since that time the five-plus species have been reassigned, redescribed, and only one sure species now exists (plus two still debated species: S. liangae of China and S. sikanniensis once known as Shonisaurus). A discussion of the implications of S. liangae's short snout and its placement in Shastasaurus was published in 2011. The only quality description of S. sikanniensis was penned under the name Shonisaurus sikanniensis; the animal was reassigned in the previous article about S. liangae and its short snout.

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