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Brachauchenius (meaning 'short neck') is an extinct genus of pliosaurid that lived in North America (United States) during the Late Cretaceous.

Temporal range: Late Cretaceous, 93–89.3 Ma
Brachauchenius lucasi2DB.jpg
Brachauchenius lucasi pursuing a generic hesperornithiform bird.
Scientific classification e
Kingdom: Animalia
Phylum: Chordata
Class: Reptilia
Superorder: Sauropterygia
Order: Plesiosauria
Family: Pliosauridae
Subfamily: Brachaucheninae
Genus: Brachauchenius
Williston, 1903[1]
Type species
Brachauchenius lucasi
Williston, 1903[1]

The type species, Brachauchenius lucasi, lived in the Western Inland Sea of North America around 93.5-89.3 million years ago, during the Turonian stage of the Cretaceous. An older specimen from the Barremian of Colombia was considered as part of this genus, representing the first re-occurrence of the non-rhomaleosaurid pliosaurs after a Berriasian-Hauterivian hiatus.[2] However, subsequent analysis of this Colombian specimen shows that it was enough distinctive to warrant a new genus and species, named as Stenorhynchosaurus munozi.[3]

The first known (type) specimen (USNM 4989) was collected by Charles Hazelius Sternberg from Ottawa County, Kansas in 1884.[4][5] It had a skull length of about 90 cm. The species was named by Samuel W. Williston.[1][6] Brachauchenius represents the last known occurrence of a pliosaur in North America.

A larger specimen (FHSM VP-321 - skull length 170 cm) was collected by George Fryer Sternberg in 1952 from the Fairport Chalk of Russell County, Kansas, and later described by Carpenter.[7] Schumacher and Everhart (2005) reported on the age and locality of both Kansas specimens.[8] This pliosaur grew to around 10  meters (33 ft) in length. This specimen was reassigned to its own genus and species, Megacephalosaurus eulerti.[9]

In 2013, Benson et al. referred a partial cranium from the Chalk Group of England (previously referred to Polyptychodon) to Brachauchenius indet.[10]

See alsoEdit


  1. ^ a b c Williston SW. 1903. North American plesiosaurs. Field Columbian Museum, Pub. 73, Geological Series 2 (1):1-79. (29 plates)
  2. ^ Hampe O. 2005. Considerations on a Brachauchenius skeleton (Pliosauroidea) from the lower Paja Formation (late Barremian) of Villa de Leyva area (Colombia). Fossil Record - Mitteilungen aus dem Museum für Naturkunde in Berlin 8 (1): 37-51.
  3. ^ Páramo, María E.; Gómez-Pérez, Marcela; Noé, Leslie F.; Etayo, Fernando (2016-04-06). "Stenorhynchosaurus munozi, gen. et sp. nov. a new pliosaurid from the Upper Barremian (Lower Cretaceous) of Villa de Leiva, Colombia, South America". Revista de la Academia Colombiana de Ciencias Exactas, Físicas y Naturales. 40 (154): 84–103. doi:10.18257/raccefyn.239. ISSN 2382-4980.
  4. ^ Everhart MJ. 2005. Oceans of Kansas - A Natural History of the Western Interior Sea. Indiana University Press, 320 pp. ISBN 0-253-34547-2.
  5. ^ Everhart MJ. 2007. Historical note on the 1884 discovery of Brachauchenius lucasi (Plesiosauria; Pliosauridae) in Ottawa County, Kansas. Transactions of the Kansas Academy of Science 110 (3/4): 255-258.
  6. ^ Williston SW. 1907. The skull of Brachauchenius, with special observations on the relationships of the plesiosaurs. United States National Museum Proceedings 32: 477-489. (pls. 34-37)
  7. ^ Carpenter K. 1996. A Review of short-necked plesiosaurs from the Cretaceous of the western interior, North America. Neues Jahbruch für Geol. Palaont. Abh. (Stuttgart) 201 (2): 259-287.
  8. ^ Schumacher BA, Everhart MJ. 2005. A stratigraphic and taxonomic review of plesiosaurs from the old “Fort Benton Group” of central Kansas: A new assessment of old records. Paludicola 5 (2): 33-54.
  9. ^ Schumacher, B. A.; Carpenter, K.; Everhart, M. J. (2013). "A new Cretaceous Pliosaurid (Reptilia, Plesiosauria) from the Carlile Shale (middle Turonian) of Russell County, Kansas". Journal of Vertebrate Paleontology. 33 (3): 613. doi:10.1080/02724634.2013.722576.
  10. ^ Benson RBJ, Evans M, Smith AS, Sassoon J, Moore-Faye S, Ketchum HF, Forrest R. 2013. A giant pliosaurid skull from the Late Jurassic of England. PLOS ONE 8(5):e65989 DOI 10.1371/journal.pone.0065989.

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