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Science China Earth Sciences

, Volume 53, Issue 12, pp 1894–1907 | Cite as

Vertebrate diversity of the Jehol Biota as compared with other lagerstätten

  • ZhongHe Zhou
  • Yuan Wang
Research Paper

Abstract

In the last twenty years, the extraordinary discoveries of vertebrate fossils from the Jehol Biota not only have important implications for studying the evolution of major Mesozoic vertebrate groups, their paleobiostratigraphy and paleoenvironmentology, but also provide critical evidence for understanding the biodiversity changes of the Early Cretaceous ecosystem. Currently, the Jehol Biota in a narrow sense (i.e., distribution limited to western Liaoning, northern Hebei, and southeastern Inner Mongolia) comprises a vertebrate assemblage of at least 121 genera and 142 species. Among them are 13 genera and 15 species of mammals, 33 genera and 39 species of birds, 30 genera and 35 species of dinosaurs, 17 genera and species of pterosaurs, 5 genera and species of squamates, 5 genera and 7 species of choristoderes, 2 genera and species of turtles, 8 genera and species of amphibians, 7 genera and 13 species of fishes as well as 1 genus and species of agnathan. All these known 121 genera are extinct forms, and only a small percentage of them (e.g., agnathans, some fishes and amphibians) can be referred to extant families. The Jehol vertebrate diversity already exceeds that of the contemporaneous lagerstätten such as Santana Fauna from Brazil and the Las Hoyas Fauna from Spain, and is nearly as great as that of the Jurassic Solnhofen Fauna and the Eocene Messel Fauna from Germany. Therefore, The Jehol Biota undoubtedly represents a world class lagerstätte in terms of both fossil preservation and vertebrate diversity. The success of the Jehol vertebrate diversity had a complex biological, geological, and paleoenvironmental background. Analysis of the habitat and diet of various vertebrate groups also indicates that the habitat and dietary differentiation had played a key role in the success of the taxonomic diversity of vertebrates of various ranks. Furthermore, the interactions among vertebrates, plants, and invertebrates as well as the competitions among various vertebrate groups and some key morphological innovations also contributed to the success of the Jehol vertebrate diversity.

Keywords

Jehol Biota Early Cretaceous vertebrate diversity lagerstätten 

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Copyright information

© Science China Press and Springer-Verlag Berlin Heidelberg 2010

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Key Laboratory of Evolutionary Systematics, Institute of Vertebrate Paleontology and PaleoanthropologyChinese Academy of SciencesBeijingChina

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