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Transylvanian latest Cretaceous continental vertebrate record

Ben Creisler

A new paper:

Naish, Mark A. Norell & Radu Totoianu (2015)
The East Side Story – The Transylvanian latest Cretaceous continental
vertebrate record and its implications for understanding
Cretaceous–Paleogene boundary events.
Cretaceous Research (advance online publication)


We review the age constraints on the Romanian continental uppermost Cretaceous.
We develop the first comprehensive chronostratigraphic framework for these beds.
We fit some of the most important fossil vertebrate localities into
this framework.
We tabulate and interpret the stratigraphic distribution of the fossil
The Romanian fossil record supports long-term stasis and abrupt end-K


The latest Cretaceous continental vertebrate faunas of the wider
Transylvanian area figured prominently in discussions concerning the
Cretaceous–Paleogene Boundary (K-Pg) events when they were first
described by Nopcsa between 1897 and 1929, because they were assumed
to be late Maastrichtian in age. Subsequently their age was
reconsidered as early Maastrichtian, and were thus regarded of lesser
importance in understanding the K-Pg boundary events in Europe and
worldwide. Moreover, Transylvanian continental vertebrate assemblages
(the so-called ‘Haţeg Island’ faunas) were often lumped together as a
temporally restricted assemblage with a homogenous taxonomic
composition. Recent fossil discoveries and more precise dating
techniques have considerably expanded knowledge of the Transylvanian
vertebrate assemblages, their ages, and their evolution. A synthesis
of the available stratigraphic data allows development of the first
comprehensive chronostratigraphic framework of the latest Cretaceous
Transylvanian vertebrates. According to these new data, expansion of
continental habitats and emergence of their vertebrate faunas started
locally during the latter part of the late Campanian, and these faunas
continued up to the second half of the Maastrichtian. During this
time, long-term faunal stasis appears to have characterized the
Transylvanian vertebrate assemblages, which is different from the
striking turnovers recorded in western Europe during the same time
interval. This suggests that there was no single ‘Europe-wide’ pattern
of latest Cretaceous continental vertebrate evolution. Together, the
available data shows that dinosaurs and other vertebrates were
relatively abundant and diverse until at least ca. 1 million years
before the K-Pg boundary, and is therefore consistent with the
hypothesis of a sudden extinction, although this must be tested with
future discoveries and better age constraints and correlations.