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FRENCH CRET. DINOS



Pete Buchholz wrote...

> Also, aren't the Late Cretaceous faunas
> of France rather poorly known?  

Actually, late Cretaceous France has a pretty good dinosaur fauna 
which has been well reviewed in such journals as _Geology 
Today_ and _Cretaceous Research_. I'm working without any references 
here, so my info may be technically incorrect, but there are abundant 
remains of the hadrosaurs _Telmatosaurus_ and _Orthomerus_, an 
indeterminate medium-sized ornithopod whose name I have forgotten, 
nodosaurid ankylosaurs, titanosaurid sauropods, and a motley of 
theropods. I think the stuff is thought to be Campanian- 
Maastrichtian.

Pereda-Superbiola, Galton and others have recently described various 
struthiosaur remains from late Cretaceous France, including a 
partial skull. The apparent small size of _Struthiosaurs_ and the 
hadrosaur _Telmatosaurus_ have led to frequent speculations about 
island dwarfism, and you'll note this is in agreement with the 
palaeogeographical model supported in the _Gargantuavis_ paper (which 
I have still not seen). 

A French late Cretaceous abelisaurid (known from a maxilla) was 
described in _Comptes Rendu_, and there are also a variety of small 
theropods including dromaeosaurids and possible troodonts. Sauropods 
are famously well represented in the latest late Cretaceous faunas of 
France, Buffetaut and Le Loueff (I think) have suggested that 
European titanosaurids became extinct before latest late 
Cretaceous times, but later re-invaded from Africa in the 
Campanian-Maastrichtian. I recall this theory is also put forward in 
the ?Le Loueff paper that names _Iuticosaurus_. 

France's late Cretaceous fauna (which also includes madtsoiid snakes 
and crocodile types known from Africa) thus has a very Gondwanan 
flavour. Animals seem to have island-hopped from Africa, but there 
are also native Laurasian types like the ornithopods.

Regarding _Gargantuavis_, is this the same animal as the avian series 
of vertebrae Buffetaut et al. described in _Nature_ a few years back? 
They thought that the vertebrae were most probably avian because the 
tightness of the sutures was more characteristic of birds than other 
theropods, but remarkably the large size of the series suggested a 
bird either condor-sized (if volant) or big ratite-sized (if 
flightless). This has got to be material of _Gargantuavis_, yes?

"And they competed in _all_ things, but none more fiercely than for 
the love of a woman - Tang Chin"

DARREN NAISH
darren.naish@port.ac.uk