Chronostratigraphic synthesis of the latest Cretaceous dinosaur turnover in south-western Europe

V. Fondevilla, V. Riera, B. Vila, A. G. Sellés, J. Dinarès-Turell, E. Vicens, R. Gaete, O. Oms, Galobart

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articleResearchpeer-review

11 Citations (Scopus)


© 2019 Elsevier B.V. In south-western Europe, the uppermost Cretaceous continental deposits in the different sedimentary basins of Iberia (Portugal and north and central Spain), the Pyrenees (Spain and France) as well as Languedoc and Provence (southern France) provide one of the few terrestrial records that allow a comprehensive study of the Campanian-Maastrichtian dinosaur assemblages. For the last years the southern Pyrenees has been the target of intense geological, palaeontological and geochronological research. Hundreds of fossil localities are now framed in high-resolution lithological sections. The succession of these sites, most of them located in the Tremp Syncline, is based on the physical correlation of rock bodies, as permitted by the general outcropping conditions. Outside this syncline, correlation is supported by geochronologic and biostratigraphic data (mainly magnetostratigraphy and planktic foraminifera biostratigraphy). The integration of the entire dataset sheds new light on the Maastrichtian dinosaur turnover, characterized by a shift from a sauropod-dominated to a hadrosauroid-dominated faunal assemblage. This turnover was progressive and involved immigrants from North America, Eurasia and Gondwana, which probably reached the study area after a sea level drop. This faunal change was mainly triggered by the arrival of lambeosaurine hadrosauroids, a group that rapidly displaced the rest of the herbivorous clades of the region. Some of the extinction events suffered by the “pre-turnover” faunas during the Maastrichtian coincide with marine isotopic and sea-level drop events, suggesting that faunal competition was not the only cause of the observed changes in dinosaur composition. Despite this faunal replacement, the resulting ecosystem after the turnover shows no major loss of biodiversity before the Cretaceous-Paleogene extinction event.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)168-189
JournalEarth-Science Reviews
Publication statusPublished - 1 Apr 2019


  • Campanian and Maastrichtian stratigraphy
  • Dinosaur succession
  • Faunal changes
  • Pyrenees


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