Article: The cranial anatomy and taxonomy of Peloneustes philarchus (Sauropterygia, Pliosauridae) from the Peterborough Member (Callovian, Middle Jurassic) of the United Kingdom
Peloneustes philarchus is the most abundant pliosaurid from the Peterborough Member of the Oxford Clay Formation (Callovian) of the UK. It is a valid taxon possessing a unique character combination, including a single autapomorphy: the interdentary symphysis is raised dorsally on a narrow platform. Twenty-one specimens can be positively referred to P.philarchus. However, other specimens previously referred to Peloneustes, from the Peterborough Member near Peterborough, and the lower Oxfordian strata of Marquise, northern France, represent distinct, unnamed taxa. The skull of P.philarchus is described in detail, including new information from an uncrushed, three-dimensionally preserved specimen and a specimen with a well-preserved palate. Well-preserved material clearly indicates that P.philarchus lacked nasals, but possessed a lacrimal. A previously unrecognised ‘palpebral’ forms part of the dorsal orbit margin adjacent to the prefrontal. The number of maxillary (30–31) and dentary (36–44) alveoli, the number of dentary alveoli adjacent to the mandibular symphysis (13–15), the number of foramina on the frontal and jugal, the breadth of the parasphenoid, breadth of the anterior (narial) process of the palatine and the presence of a lappet of the angular that extends onto the posterodorsal surface of the retroarticular process vary among individuals but are not considered sufficient to justify the recognition of new taxa. The presence of an open palpebral–prefrontal suture, the size of the ventral midline tubercle of the basioccipital and the presence of an anterior interpterygoid vacuity seem to vary with body size.