Recent field work in the Bighorn Basin, Wyoming has recovered significant new material of the plesiosaur Tatenectes laramiensis. The majority of cryptocleidoid plesiosaurs have been recovered from Middle and Upper Jurassic units (Oxford and Kimmeridge Clays, respectively) in the United Kingdom, but Tatenectes laramiensis is one of at least two cryptocleidoids known from the Upper Sundance Member of the Sundance Formation (Oxfordian) of North America. Although poorly known, they bear directly on both the phylogeny and biogeography of the cryptocleidoid plesiosaurs. Here we describe new fossil material of Tatenectes, and reevaluate the phylogenetic position of this genus based on all known material. New material includes a partial skeleton comprising cranial elements, axial column, and a partial pectoral girdle, as well as an isolated humerus and vertebrae. The pectoral girdle closely resembles that of Muraenosaurus belodis from the Oxford Clay, but is even shorter anteriorly. The cervical vertebrae are more compressed antero-posteriorly than in other Jurassic cryptocleidoids. The humerus is less derived, resembling that of Tricleidus seeleyi. Two most parsimonious trees were obtained, and the consensus tree solidifies the phylogenetic position of Tatenectes as being most closely related to the Oxford Clay taxon Kimmerosaurus.
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Vol. 29 • No. 1