Phytosaurs are a group of carnivorous, semi-aquatic archosaurian reptiles that attained an almost global distribution during the Late Triassic. We here describe a new species of the phytosaur genus Mystriosuchus from the Norian Dachstein Limestone of Austria, from a marine lagoonal depositional environment. The new Austrian material comprises remains of at least four individuals of similar size (c. 4 m in total length) found in association but disarticulated, and includes one complete and two partial skulls and postcrania. All of these specimens apparently represent a single taxon, which is distinguished by numerous anatomical features from the two previously named Mystriosuchus species. Maximum parsimony analysis of a comprehensive morphological dataset provides strong statistical support for the phylogenetic position of the new Austrian taxon in Mystriosuchus, as the sister taxon to a clade comprising M. planirostris and M. westphali. Histological analysis suggests that the Austrian phytosaur specimens represent individuals that were at least eight years old at time of death, but which had not yet reached skeletal maturity. Taphonomic and palaeoenvironmental data suggest that these phytosaurs were living in the marine lagoon in which they were preserved, providing the strongest evidence to date of marine adaptations in phytosaurs.
ADDITIONAL KEYWORDS: bone histology – fossils – marine adaptations – morphology – phylogeny – reptiles.