, Volume 4, Issue 1, pp 9-46
Date: 28 Feb 2012

The Middle Triassic marine reptile biodiversity in the Germanic Basin, in the centre of the Pangaean world

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The Middle Triassic fossil reptile localities near Bayreuth (Bavaria, southern Germany) consist of shallow marine autochthonous glauconitic marls and terebratulid-rich tempestite carbonates of the newly defined Bindlach and Hegnabrunn formations. Single bones and incomplete skeletons of marine reptiles have been recorded in bone beds within in the Illyrian and Fassanian stages. These include the remains of the sauropterygians Neusticosaurus sp., Lariosaurus cf. buzzii [1], Nothosaurus mirabilis [2], Paranothosaurus giganteus [2], Placodus gigas [3], Cyamodus rostratus [4], Cyamodus münsteri [5], Pistosaurus longaevus [6], and ichthyosaursOmphalosaurus sp., and Shastasaurus sp. or proterosaur Tanystrophaeus conspicuus [7]. New skeletal reconstructions are based on the osteological analysis of three dimensionally preserved bones and skeletal remains. The large number of marine endemic placodont macroalgae feeders (P. gigas) in the Bayreuth sites coincides with the presence of invertebrate palaeocommunities that are characteristic of macroalgae meadow paleoenvironments. Most of the reptile species and genera from the Bayreuth localities also occur in beds of similar ages from the Monte San Giorgio (Switzerland/Italy) or Perledo (Italy) lagoonal areas. Ichthyosaurs and pistosaurs were adapted for open marine conditions, and may have migrated from the Panthalassa Oceans into the shallow marine Germanic Basin to reproduce, whereas placodonts and many other sauropterygians seem to have lived permanently in those shallow marine habitats, with large squamates and thecodont or smaller archosaurs in coastal areas.