Different Types of Carnivorous Dinosaur in the Late Jurassic of Europe According to New Study

By |2024-05-07T13:54:06+01:00February 9th, 2020|Dinosaur and Prehistoric Animal News Stories, Dinosaur Fans, Main Page, Photos/Pictures of Fossils|0 Comments

Lots of Different Types of Theropod Dinosaur Identified from a German Quarry

During the Late Jurassic, much of the landmass we now know as Europe was covered by shallow, tropical seas.  The islands that dotted this seascape were dominated by dinosaurs and a great deal of research has been undertaken to identify and map the ancient terrestrial fauna.  A new study published in the journal PeerJ, reveals that there were a wide variety of different types of meat-eating dinosaur present on these islands.  Fossils associated with allosauroids, ceratosaurs and megalosauroids have been identified in a single bonebed dominated by the dwarf sauropod Europasaurus.

Views of a Single Claw (Pedal Ungual) and Toe Bones (Pedal Phalanges) Tentatively Ascribed to the Allosauroidea

Fragmentary fossils from the Langenberg Quarry associated with theropod dinosaurs.
A fossilised foot claw and fossil toe bones tentatively ascribed to the Allosauroidea.

Picture credit: PeerJ

Dwarfism in the Dinosauria

Scientists from the University of Fribourg (Switzerland) in association with the Martin-Luther-Universität (Germany), examined the fragmentary theropod dinosaur remains associated with the Europasaurus bonebed found at the Langenberg Quarry site in Germany’s Harz Mountains, near the town of Goslar (Lower Saxony).  These marine deposits have yielded a variety of vertebrate fossils, representing the corpses of terrestrial fauna washed into the marine depositional environment from a nearby island.

All the meat-eating dinosaur fossils described represent relatively small individuals.  It is not known whether these fossils represent juveniles or whether they might be evidence of insular dwarfism.  Animals living on islands with limited food resources can evolve into dwarf forms, becoming much smaller in size than their mainland relatives.

The incompleteness of the theropod fossil remains and their rarity when compared to the Europasaurus material had discouraged scientific analysis.  This is the first academic paper to describe these types of fossils from the Langenberg Quarry.  The fragmentary material can only be classified on higher taxonomic levels, the new occurrences reported add to our understanding of the regional tetrapod fauna and to theropod diversity in Europe in general.

Partial Fibulae (Lower Leg Bones) Ascribed to the Theropoda

Partial lower leg bones ascribed to the Theropoda.
Partial left fibula (top) and partial right fibula (below) both assigned to the Theropoda and described as potentially megalosauroid.

Picture credit: PeerJ

Several Different Types of Theropod Dinosaur Present

This research confirms the presence of several different types of theropod dinosaur in the Late Jurassic northern European archipelago and will help palaeontologists to better understand the diversity and evolution of the Theropoda during the Late Jurassic of Europe.  The incomplete material can be assigned to ceratosaurian, megalosauroid, and allosauroid theropods.

These identifications agree with previous reports of the presence of these theropod groups in the Late Jurassic of Northern Germany based on fossil teeth.  Although the Langenberg theropod fauna is not as rich as some other European localities, such as the Lourinhã Formation of Portugal, these findings confirm a varied dinosaur fauna in central Europe during the Late Jurassic.

The scientific paper: “Late Jurassic theropod dinosaur bones from the Langenberg Quarry (Lower Saxony, Germany) provide evidence for several theropod lineages in the central European archipelago” by Serjoscha W. Evans and Oliver Wings published in the journal PeerJ.

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