The Late Triassic microvertebrate fauna of Tytherington, UK

Tamara van den Berg, David I. Whiteside, Pedro Viegas, Remmert Schouten, Michael J. Benton

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle (Academic Journal)peer-review

24 Citations (Scopus)


The Late Triassic fissure fills from the region of Bristol, SW England and S Wales, preserve unique assemblages of small vertebrates derived from an archipelago of palaeo-islands that document aspects of a critical transition in the history of terrestrial ecosystems. Tytherington Quarry, in south Gloucestershire, is the site of several fossiliferous fissures, all dated as Rhaetian (terminal Triassic), and source of abundant remains of the 'Bristol dinosaur', Thecodontosaurus antiquus. In addition, the fissure sediments have yielded previously unreported microvertebrate assemblages, including over 400 jaw remains from three genera of sphenodontians and 100 archosaur teeth assigned to 15 morphotypes. The land fauna is dominated by sphenodontians, with Diphydontosaurus by far the most common form, followed by Clevosaurus, then the sauropodomorph dinosaur Thecodontosaurus, and then the sphenodontian Planocephalosaurus. There are, in addition, rare remains of contemporaneous bony fishes, as well as fossils apparently reworked from the Carboniferous limestones, namely conodonts, holocephalian (chimaeroid) teeth, and a shark tooth. Many typical latest Triassic animals, such as temnospondyls, phytosaurs, aetosaurs, rauisuchians, plateosaurids and dicynodonts are not represented at Tytherington, perhaps because these generally larger animals did not live on the palaeo-island, or because their carcasses could not fit into the fissures. The absence of tritylodonts and early mammals is, however, less easy to explain on the basis of size, although it is known that these forms were abundant here by the Early Jurassic. (C) 2012 The Geologists' Association. Published by Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)638-648
Number of pages11
JournalProceedings of the Geologists' Association
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - Aug 2012


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