Marine reptile occurrences are rare in the Lower Jurassic Series outside of Europe. Here we describe diverse marine reptile faunas from the Lower Jurassic Series (Pliensbachian and Toarcian stages, including the Toarcian-Aalenian boundary interval) of Eastern Siberia. The taxonomic composition of Toarcian marine reptile assemblages of Siberia highlight their cosmopolitan nature, with the presence of taxa previously known nearly exclusively from coeval strata of Europe, such as ichthyosaurians Temnodontosaurus and Stenopterygius, microcleidid plesiosaurians (including the genus Microcleidus), rhomaleosaurids and basal pliosaurids. The palaeogeographic reconstruction places these faunas to the palaeopolar region, north of the 80th northern parallel and up to the palaeo north pole (upper value within the 95% confidence interval for some of the localities). The materials include remains of both mature and juvenile (or even infant, judging by their very small size and poor ossification) animals, indicating a possibility that these polar seas may serve as a breeding area. The diversity and abundance of plesiosaurians and ichthyosaurians, along with a lack of thalattosuchian remains (considering their wide distribution elsewhere at low latitudes), is an additional argument that plesiosaurians and neoichthyosaurians were able to live and reproduce in a polar environment. There is no certainty whether these animals lived in polar seas permanently, or whether they were taking seasonal migrations. However, given the polar night conditions at high latitudes, the latter seems more plausible, and both these scenarios are further indirect evidence that these groups likely had a high metabolism.
Scopus subject areas
- Boreal Realm