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Carcharodontosaurid tooth from Early Cretaceous of Romania



Ben Creisler
bcreisler@gmail.com

A new paper:

Zoltán Csiki-Sava, Stephen L. Brusatte & Stefan Vasile (2016)
“Megalosaurus cf. superbus” from southeastern Romania: The oldest
known Cretaceous carcharodontosaurid (Dinosauria: Theropoda) and its
implications for earliest Cretaceous Europe-Gondwana connections.
Cretaceous Research 60: 221-238
doi:10.1016/j.cretres.2015.12.004
http://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0195667115301269


Highlights

An isolated, large theropod dinosaur tooth from Romania is referred to
Carcharodontosauridae.
The Romanian carcharodontosaurid is Valanginian in age, the oldest
Cretaceous record of the clade.
This occurrence supports dispersal from Europe to west-Gondwana during
the mid-Early Cretaceous.


Abstract

Some of the best records of continental vertebrates from the
Cretaceous of Europe come from Romania, particularly two well-known
occurrences of dwarfed and morphologically aberrant dinosaurs and
other taxa that lived on islands (the Cornet and Haţeg Island faunas).
Substantially less is known about those vertebrates living in the more
stable, cratonic regions of Romania (and Eastern Europe as a whole),
particularly during the earliest Cretaceous. We describe one of the
few early Early Cretaceous fossils that have ever been found from
these regions, the tooth of a large theropod dinosaur from Southern
Dobrogea, which was discovered over a century ago but whose age and
identification have been controversial. We identify the specimen as
coming from the Valanginian stage of the Early Cretaceous, an
incredibly poorly sampled interval in global dinosaur evolution, and
as belonging to Carcharodontosauridae, a clade of derived,
large-bodied apex predators whose earliest Cretaceous history is
poorly known. Quantitative analyses demonstrate that the Romanian
tooth shows affinities with a derived carcharodontosaurid subgroup,
the Carcharodontosaurinae, which until now has been known solely from
Gondwana. Our results suggest that this subgroup of colossal predators
did not evolve vicariantly as Laurasia split from Gondwana, but
originated earlier, perhaps in Europe. The carcharodontosaurine
diversification may have been tied to a north-to-south trans-Tethyan
dispersal that took place sometime between the Valanginian and the
Aptian, illustrating the importance of palaeogeographic ties between
these two realms during the largely mysterious early–mid Early
Cretaceous.