Susannah C.R. Maidment, Chloe Kirkpatrick, Brian Craik-Smith & Jane E. Blythe (2017)
A new ornithischian dinosaur and the terrestrial vertebrate fauna from a bone bed in the Wealden of Ardingly, West Sussex.
Proceedings of the Geologists' Association (advance online publication)
The Wealden Supergroup of south-east England has long been of interest to palaeontologists because of its diverse flora and fauna. The Supergroup is Early Cretaceous in age, occupying the time period immediately after the enigmatic end-Jurassic extinction. Wealden faunas therefore have the potential to be informative about the tempo and mode of post-extinction recovery, but due to lack of exposure in this densely populated part of southern England, are difficult to sample. In the summer of 2012, a number of ex situ fossiliferous blocks of sandstone, siltstone and limestone were discovered from building excavations at Ardingly College, near Haywards Heath in West Sussex. The sedimentology of the blocks indicates that they are from the Valanginian Hastings Group, and that Ardingly College is underlain by the Grinstead Clay Formation, rather than the Ardingly Sandstone Member. The blocks contain a diverse invertebrate fauna and flora, as well as vertebrate remains, which are found in a distinct sandstone horizon that probably represents the Top Lower Tunbridge Wells pebble bed. A tooth from an ornithschian dinosaur cannot be referred to any of the ornithischian taxa known from the Wealden Supergroup, and therefore represents a new taxon. Teeth of the crocodilian Theriosuchus extend the known range of this taxon in the Wealden, while teeth of an ornithocheird pterosaur confirm the presence of these animals in the skies above the Wealden sub-basins. Fusainized plant remains and the wing-case of a cupedid beatle indicate that wildfire was a ubiquitous feature of the Weald Sub-basin during the Valanginian.