Thililua

Name: Thililua ‭(‬after an aquatic god from Berber mythology‭)‬.
Phonetic: Fil-e-lu-ah.
Named By: Nathalie Bardet,‭ ‬Xabier Pereda Suberbiola‭ & ‬Nour-Eddine Jalil‭ ‬-‭ ‬2003.
Classification: Chordata,‭ ‬Reptilia,‭ ‬Sauropterygia,‭ ‬Plesiosauria,‭ ‬Plesiosauroidea.
Species: T.‭ ‬longicollis‭ (‬type‭)‬.
Diet: Piscivore.
Size: Estimated between‭ ‬5.5‭ ‬and‭ ‬6‭ ‬meters long.
Known locations: Morocco‭ ‬-‭ ‬High Atlas Mountains.
Time period: Turonian of the Cretaceous.
Fossil representation: Complete skull,‭ ‬lower jaws and‭ ‬37‭ ‬cervical‭ (‬neck‭) ‬vertebrae.

       Although the body is still unknown,‭ ‬Thililua is considered to be a polycotylid plesiosaur.‭ ‬Named after the genus Polycotylus,‭ ‬polycotylids had plesiosaur shaped bodies,‭ ‬but proportionately shorter‭ ‬necks and longer jaws,‭ ‬with probably the most famous example of this group being Dolichorhynchops.‭ ‬Although most polycotylid fossils are known from North America,‭ ‬the presence of Thililua in Morocco helps to establish the picture of polycotylid plesiosaurs being successful enough to colonise most of the ocean.‭
       But with thirty seven cervical vertebrae Thililua had more than most other polycotylid genera.‭ ‬This suggests that Thililua was more primitive in form and may have actually been a closely related offshoot descended from the ancestors of the polycotylids.

Further reading
- A new polycotylid plesiosaur from the Late Cretaceous (Turonian) of Morocco. - Comptes Rendus Palevol 2:307-315. - N. Bardet, X. Pereda Suberbiola & N.-E. Jalil - 2003.



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