Swiss Journal of Geosciences

, Volume 103, Issue 2, pp 143–153 | Cite as

A stegosaur tooth (Dinosauria, Ornithischia) from the Early Cretaceous of southwestern France

  • Jean-Paul Billon-Bruyat
  • Jean-Michel Mazin
  • Joane Pouech


The spotty nature of the terrestrial fossil record for the Mesozoic hinders a more complete understanding of dinosaur diversity. For stegosaurs (Ornithischia), the plated dinosaurs, only a few and fragmentary remains are reported from the Early Cretaceous of Europe. A recent revision concluded that only a partial vertebra of the nomen dubium Craterosaurus (?Aptian, England) could be considered as stegosaurian. Here we report on a stegosaur tooth from the Early Cretaceous (Berriasian) Purbeckian deposits of Cherves-de-Cognac (Charente), southwestern France. This tiny tooth was examined in detail using microtomography. Comparisons being limited by the rarity of stegosaur tooth rows material (e.g., from the skull of the holotype of Stegosaurus stenops) and dental material, notably from Europe, we observed new material of cf. Stegosaurus armatus and Hesperosaurus mjosi from the Upper Jurassic Morrison Formation of Wyoming (USA). The tooth shows the most similarities to the Late Jurassic genera Stegosaurus and Hesperosaurus, but differs in having a distinctive downwardly arched (V-shaped) cingulum on the ?lingual face (maxillary tooth hypothesis). It is referred to as Stegosauria indeterminate, a medium-sized quadrupedal herbivore that inhabited an emerged land between the Armorican Massif and the Massif Central. This finding is the first evidence of a stegosaur from the Early Cretaceous of France and a welcome addition to the meagre European record of that time. In addition, it is the second stegosaurian tooth crown reported from Europe. The assemblage of ornithischians of Cherves-de-Cognac shares some similarities with that of the Early Cretaceous (Berriasian) of the Purbeck Limestone Group, southern England. The relative rarity of ornithischian osteological remains in both Purbeckian environments suggests that most of these dinosaurs were mainly inhabitants of inland terrestrial palaeoenvironments.


Stegosauria Tooth Berriasian France Fossil record Microtomography 

Institutional abbreviations


Cherves-de-Cognac collection, Musée d’Angoulême, France


Hayashibara Museum of Natural History, Okayama, Japan


Laboratório des História Natural de Batalha, Portugal


Sauriermuseum Aathal, Switzerland


National Museum of Natural History (formerly United States National Museum), Washington, DC, USA


Peabody Museum of Natural History, Yale University, New Haven, Connecticut, USA



JPBB is particularly grateful to H.J. “Kirby” Siber and his team for the kind invitation to the Symposium on Stegosauria (June 2009) and access to the stegosaur material in the Sauriermuseum Aathal. We are indebted to our excavation team, especially S. Blineau who discovered the specimen. We thank P. Tafforeau and the ID 19 beamline staff of the European Synchrotron Radiation Facility (Grenoble, France) for their help in obtaining microtomographic images, and B. Migy (SAP, Porrentruy; Figs. 1a; 2a–g; 3a, b) and U. Möckli (Sauriermuseum Aathal; Fig. 4b) for photographs. We thank Nicolai A. Christiansen (Museu da Lourinhã), D. Becker and L. Bocat (SAP, Porrentruy) for fruitful discussions about this tooth and/or the first version of this manuscript. The manuscript benefited greatly from the comments of the two referees P.M. Galton (University of Bridgeport and Peabody Museum of Natural History, Yale University, USA) notably concerning the identification and comparisons with USNM 4934 and the literature, and P. Barrett (The Natural History Museum, London, UK), the latter who prefers to regard CHE02.084 as a thyreophoran or possibly an ankylosaur tooth. We also thank D. Marty (SAP, Porrentruy) for editorial work. Fieldwork was supported by the Champlanc Quarry owner (Groupe Garandeau), several local Public Councils (Ville de Cherves-de-Cognac, Communauté de Communes de Cognac, Département de la Charente) and societies (GERMA, PaleoAquitania).


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Copyright information

© Swiss Geological Society 2010

Authors and Affiliations

  • Jean-Paul Billon-Bruyat
    • 1
  • Jean-Michel Mazin
    • 2
  • Joane Pouech
    • 3
  1. 1.Section d’archéologie et paléontologie, Office de la cultureRépublique et Canton du Jura, Hôtel des HallesPorrentruySwitzerland
  2. 2.UMR 5125 PEPS, CNRSUniversité Lyon 1Villeurbanne CedexFrance
  3. 3.European Synchrotron Radiation FacilityGrenoble CedexFrance

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