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Keichousaurus is a genus of marine reptile in the pachypleurosaur family which went extinct at the close of the Triassic in the Triassic-Jurassic extinction event. The name derives from Kweichow (now Guizhou Province) in China where the first fossil specimen was discovered in 1957. They are among the most common sauropterygian fossils recovered and are often found as nearly complete, articulated skeletons, making them popular among collectors. Keichousaurus, and the pachypleurosaur family broadly, are sometimes classified within Nothosauroidea, but are otherwise listed as a separate, more primitive lineage within Sauropterygia.

DescriptionEdit

Keichousaurus, like all sauropterygians, was highly adapted to the aquatic environment. individuals of this genus ranged up to 2.7 m in length,[1] and had both long necks and long tails, with elongated, five-toed feet. The pointed head and sharp teeth in this genus also indicate that they were fish-eaters. Some recovered specimens feature an especially developed ulna suggesting they may have spent some time on land or in marshes.

In addition fossil evidence suggest also a pair of fossilized pregnant marine reptiles called Keichousaurus hui, show they had a mobile pelvis to give birth to live young rather than laying eggs.

MorphologyEdit

Keichousaurus hui was found in 1958 in Guizhou, China. This fossil is distinguished by its broad ulna which makes it unlike other European genera. The broad ulna increased the surface area of the forelimbs, making it more effective in locomotion. Keichousaurus shows many characteristics of its family Pachypleurosauridae such as its short snout and elongated temporal openings. Keichousaurus also had a long serpentine neck with a relatively small head and long tail. The anterior caudal vertebrae possess lateral transverse processes. The morphology of Keichousaurus is most like that of Dactylosaurus, showing long and narrow upper temporal openings that extends to the rear of the skull of which is not found in other pachypleurosaurids. Other differences from pachypleurosaurids include Keichousaurus's more robust humerus, very broad ulna, and slight hyperphalangy in the manus. The sternum was also lacking in this animal, and the forelimbs were more paddled-shaped, possibly indicating a greater importance of the forelimbs in movement. The pectoral girdle was formed by the paired clavicles, interclavical, scapulae, and coracoids. Keichousaurus was a primitive quadrupedal tetrapod with limbs laterally placed to the body. Different parts of Keichousaurus grew at different rates, a phenomenon called allometric growth.

LocomotionEdit

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