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Marine vertebrates from the Santonian coastal carbonates of northwestern Germany – a tool for the reconstruction of a Proto- North Sea Basin intertidal dinosaur-exchange bridge

Cajus G. Diedrich / Udo Scheer
Published Online: 2015-09-25 | DOI: https://doi.org/10.1515/geo-2015-0020


A diverse vertebrate fauna, dominated by shark teeth, is recorded from conglomerates within the limestones of the Upper Cretaceous (Santonian) Burgsteinfurt Formation of northwestern Germany. The conglomerate beds comprise carbonatic, glauconitic and phosphate nodules, as well as Triassic, Jurassic and Cretaceous extraclasts. The Burgsteinfurt Formation conglomerates contain fining-upwards parasequences 2–20 cm in thickness, interpreted as tempestite layers within a unit formed by larger-scale Milankovitch Cycles. The presence of the inoceramid Sphenoceramus patootensis and belemnite Gonioteuthis granulata indicate a late Santonian age for the unit. The studied vertebrate fauna from the Weiner Esch locality consists of 20 selachian species (14 macroselachians and 6 microselachians), a few teleosts, rare marine mosasaur remains, and one tooth from a theropod dinosaur. 95% of the vertebrates in the assemblage are depositionally autochthonous, with the remaining material reworked from older underlying Cenomanian–Coniacian (lower Upper Cretaceous) limestones. On the basis of observed sedimentary structures, the scarcity of deep-sea selachians, and the dominance of the Mitsukurinidae (59% of the preserved shark fauna) in the fossil assemblage, the unit is interpreted as a shallow (0–3 metres deep), subtidal, nearshore environment, or even subaerial carbonate-sand islands, located on the southern margin of a submarine swell. The presence of a Santonian theropod in this deposit, and other dinosaur records in northern Germany, together support the interpretation of a short-lived uplift event with strong upwelling influence for the Northwestphalian-Lippe submarine swell north of the Rhenish Massif in the southern Proto- North Sea Basin. A new migration model for dinosaurs moving along carbonate coasts or intertidal zones of shallow carbonate-sand islands in Central Europe is presented, which may explain the scattered distribution of dinosaur remains across Europe in the Upper Cretaceous.

Keywords: Selachian fauna; teleosts; mosasaurs; theropod dinosaur; late Santonian (Late Cretaceous); nearshore coastal and intertidal environments; upwelling; submarine swell; northwestern Germany; southern Proto- North Sea Basin; Europe


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About the article

Received: 2013-12-10

Accepted: 2014-11-03

Published Online: 2015-09-25

Citation Information: Open Geosciences, Volume 7, Issue 1, ISSN (Online) 2391-5447, DOI: https://doi.org/10.1515/geo-2015-0020.

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©2015 C.G. Diedrich and U. Scheer. This work is licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 3.0 License. BY-NC-ND 3.0

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