Emptying the Wastebasket: A Historical and Taxonomic Revision of the Jurassic Crocodylomorph Steneosaurus

Michela Johnson, Mark Young, Steve Brusatte

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Teleosauroidea is a clade of ancient crocodylomorphs that were integral components of coastal marine environments throughout the Jurassic. For nearly two centuries, one of the most familiar genera of teleosauroids has been Steneosaurus, encompassing nearly every teleosauroid species at some point. However, no type species has been designated for Steneosaurus under ICZN Code rules; the type specimen of the presumed type species S. rostromajorGeoffroy Saint-Hilaire, 1825 (MNHN.RJN 134c-d) is a chimera that has been largely neglected in the literature. Moreover, there is confusion as to which teleosauroid species it pertains to, and the genus Steneosaurus is often recovered as paraphyletic or polyphyletic in phylogenetic analyses. As such, the validity of Steneosaurus is uncertain. Here we formally designate S. rostromajor as the type species of Steneosaurus, designate a lectotype and re-evaluate MNHN.RJN 134c-d. We compare it with several well-known teleosauroids, including Lemmysuchus and ‘S.’ edwardsi. Due to lack of autapomorphic characters, poor preservation and a tortured taxonomic history, we find MNHN.RJN 134c-d to be an undiagnostic and unreliable specimen. Thus, we consider S. rostromajor as a nomen dubium and propose that the genus Steneosaurus is undiagnostic. This has profound implications for teleosauroid phylogenetics, which we will clarify in an upcoming paper.
Original languageEnglish
JournalZoological Journal of the Linnean Society
Issue number2
Early online date11 Apr 2020
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jun 2020

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