A new specimen of the Moroccan elasmosaurid plesiosaur Zarafasaura oceanis from the Maastrichtian (Upper Cretaceous) phosphate deposits of Morocco is described. A partial skeleton with an associated skull is mounted on display at the Wyoming Dinosaur Center, USA. The short preorbital region of the skull and contact of the squamosal with the parietals, jugal and postorbital, allow for identification to the genus. However, large amounts of the skull and mounted skeleton are reconstructed so description is difficult in all but a cursory way. In recent years, the popularity of Moroccan material among collectors and the general public has increased the number of display specimens in museums across the world. As plesiosaurs remain very scarce in these rich marine vertebrate strata, any information expanding our understanding of the osteology of a known species warrants study. The new specimen of Zarafasaura provides information on postcranial elements which were previously unknown, along with additional information regarding a fairly complete skull that preserves elements that are missing in the holotype specimen.
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|Published - 2013