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Environmental and geological controls on the diversity and distribution of the sauropodomorpha

Mannion, P.D.; (2010) Environmental and geological controls on the diversity and distribution of the sauropodomorpha. Doctoral thesis, UCL (University College London). Green open access

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Abstract

Sauropodomorph dinosaurs were an important component of Mesozoic terrestrial ecosystems. Their diversity and abundance fluctuated throughout the Mesozoic but whether this reflects genuine biological changes or merely variations in our sampling of the rock record is uncertain. A database of all sauropodomorph individuals (2335) has been compiled, including environmental, geological, taxonomic and taphonomic data. Using a variety of sampling proxies (including a new specimen completeness metric) and a number of analytical techniques (residuals, rarefaction and phylogenetic diversity estimates), this work has demonstrated that sauropodomorph diversity appears to be genuinely high in the Pliensbachian‐Callovian and Kimmeridgian‐Tithonian, while low diversity levels are recorded for the Oxfordian and Berriasian‐Barremian, with the J/K boundary seemingly representing a real diversity crash. Diversity in the remaining Triassic‐Jurassic stages appears to be largely controlled by sampling biases while Late Cretaceous diversity is difficult to elucidate and perhaps remains relatively under‐sampled. Sea level affects diversity and abundance in the Jurassic‐Early Cretaceous, but does not appear to be linked in the Late Cretaceous. Different clades of sauropodomorphs potentially preferred different environments and this may have had an effect on changes in their distribution and diversity. Titanosaurs have been demonstrated to show a preference for inland environments compared to non‐titanosaurs, and it is possible that this led to their success in the Cretaceous when other sauropod clades were in decline. An assessment of the palaeolatitudinal patterns of sauropods and ornithischians reveals a distributional skew in the Late Cretaceous, which may reflect environmental and/or dietary preferences. A study of completeness through historical time contradicts the recent claim that the quality of dinosaurian type material has improved from the 19th century to the present. These studies illustrate that use of a number of techniques is imperative in any attempt to tease apart genuine patterns from the biases of an uneven rock record.

Type:Thesis (Doctoral)
Title:Environmental and geological controls on the diversity and distribution of the sauropodomorpha
Open access status:An open access version is available from UCL Discovery
Language:English
UCL classification:UCL > School of BEAMS > Faculty of Maths and Physical Sciences > Earth Sciences

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