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[dinosaur] Large non-marine "pliosaur" jaw from Germany + Late Permian (Lopingian) terrestrial ecosystems

Ben Creisler

Some recent non-dino papers:

Sven Sachs, Jahn J. Hornung, Jens N. Lallensack & Benjamin P. Kear (2017)
First evidence of a large predatory plesiosaurian from the Lower Cretaceous non-marine ‘Wealden facies’ deposits of northwestern Germany.
Alcheringa (advance online publication)
doi: http://dx.doi.org/10.1080/03115518.2017.1373150

Here, we describe the incomplete mandible of a large-skulled ‘pliosauromorph’ plesiosaurian from the Lower Cretaceous (Berriasian) of northwestern Germany. The fossil derives from limnic–brackish ‘Wealden facies’ deposits of the Deister Formation (Bückeberg Group), and is preserved as a natural mould in fine-grained sandstone. Examination of the original remains, in conjunction with a three-dimensional photogrammetrically digitized ‘cast’, revealed a conspicuous rosette of symphyseal alveoli, which would otherwise typically characterize Early–Middle Jurassic macrophagous plesiosaurians including rhomaleosaurids and the pliosaurid Simolestes. The Deister Formation ‘pliosauromorph’ represents the first record of a large-bodied plesiosaurian macrocarnivore from the ‘Wealden-facies’ strata of Europe, and thus adds a previously unrecognized trophic level of aquatic apex predators to the Early Cretaceous non-marine ecosystems of Europe.


Free pdf:

Massimo Bernardi, Fabio Massimo Petti, Evelyn Kustatscher, Matthias Franz, Christoph Hartkopf-Fröder, Conrad C. Labandeira, Torsten Wappler, Johanna H.A. van Konijnenburg-van Cittert, Brandon R. Peecook & Kenneth D. Angielczyk (2017)

Late Permian (Lopingian) terrestrial ecosystems: A global comparison with new data from the low latitude Bletterbach Biota.

Earth-Science Reviews (advance online publication)

doi: https://doi.org/10.1016/j.earscirev.2017.10.002




The late Palaeozoic is a pivotal period for the evolution of terrestrial ecosystems. Generalised warming and aridification trends resulted in profound floral and faunal turnover as well as increased levels of endemism. The patchiness of well-preserved, late Permian terrestrial ecosystems, however, complicates attempts to reconstruct a coherent, global scenario. In this paper, we provide a new reconstruction of the Bletterbach Biota (Southern Alps, NE Italy), which constitutes a unique, low-latitude record of Lopingian life on land. We also integrate floral, faunal (from skeletal and footprint studies), and plant–insect interaction data, as well as global climatic interpretations, to compare the composition of the 14-best known late Permian ecosystems. The results of this ecosystem-scale analysis provide evidence for a strong correlation between the distribution of the principal clades of tetrapod herbivores (dicynodonts, pareiasaurs, captorhinids), phytoprovinces and climatic latitudinal zonation. We show that terrestrial ecosystems were structured and provincialised at high taxonomic levels by climate regions, and that latitudinal distribution is a key predictor of ecosystem compositional affinity. A latitudinal diversity gradient characterised by decreasing richness towards higher latitudes is apparent: mid to low latitude ecosystems had the greatest amount of high-level taxonomic diversity, whereas those from high latitudes were dominated by small numbers of higher taxa. The high diversities of tropical ecosystems stem from their inclusion of a mixture of late-occurring holdovers from the early Permian, early members of clades that come to prominence in the Triassic, and contemporary taxa that are also represented in higher latitude assemblages. A variety of evidence suggests that the Permian tropics acted as both a cradle (an area with high origination rates) and museum (an area with low extinction rates) for biodiversity.

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