, Volume 92, Issue 4, pp 425-443
Date: 04 Oct 2012

Amphisbaenians from the European Eocene: a biogeographical review

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Abstract

In this paper, part of the amphisbaenian fossil record from the european Eocene is revised. There is no evidence for the existence of amphisbaenian lizards in Europe or on other continents during the Late Cretaceous. Crown amphisbaenians were present in Europe in the early Paleocene and throughout the Paleogene, with the notable exception of the middle Eocene. In particular, they were not found at Messel. European fossil taxa previously assigned to the amphisbaenians are briefly reviewed, and a description of some representative specimens from the Eocene fossil record is presented: dentary and vertebrae from Mutigny (early Eocene, France) are referred to the North American genus Anniealexandria; fossils from the late Eocene of the Phosphorites du Quercy (France) are attributed to Blanidae, and they are the earliest secure occurrence of Blanidae in the fossil record; and dentaries and maxillae from Grisolles (middle-late Eocene, Paris Basin, France) are referred to a new species, Louisamphisbaena ferox. Global distribution of fossil amphisbaenians in the Eocene reveals at least one episode of dispersal between North America and Europe during the early Eocene. Finally, some explanations are suggested for the absence of crown amphisbaenians at Messel and in the European middle Eocene.

This article is a contribution to the special issue “Messel and the terrestrial Eocene - Proceedings of the 22nd Senckenberg Conference”