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A Middle Triassic palaeontological gold mine: the vertebrate deposits of Vellberg (Germany)

July 10 , 2016


The lacustrine deposits of Vellberg, contain more than a dozen taxa of bony fishes and a large number of new tetrapod taxa, forming one of the richest vertebrate deposits of the Middle Triassic.
They form a succession of different water bodies, ranging from a brackish lagoon to a variety of different small freshwater lakes.
The accumulation of aquatic and terrestrial tetrapods in the richest beds was caused by repeated phases of drought and regression


The lacustrine deposits of Vellberg, southern Germany, rank among the richest vertebrate fossil-lagerstätten of the Triassic worldwide. Continued excavation over one decade produced two chondrichthyans, 14 taxa of bony fishes, seven temnospondyls, one chroniosuchian, the stem-turtle Pappochelys, two procolophonians, four lepidosauromorphs, a choristodere, four archosauriforms, three pseudosuchian archosaurs, and around ten further reptile taxa only known by teeth. Sedimentary facies, fossil assemblage composition, and taphonomy suggest this deposit comprises a succession of rather different water bodies, situated on a floodplain dominated by dolomitic muds: (1) a coal swamp with occasional reptiles and temnospondyls, (2) a large but shallow, brackish lagoon inhabited by Bakevellia, Acrodus, Nothosaurus, and the temnospondyl Plagiosternum, (3) a small and shallow, well-protected, oligohaline freshwater lake dominated by various temnospondyls, and (4) a larger (6 km) and deeper freshwater lake, again with a rich fauna of fishes, temnospondyls, and small aquatic reptiles that was eventually filled by dolomitic coastal muds. Reworking and desiccation cracks indicate repeated phases of regression and drought, during which bonebeds formed and skeletons of terrestrial tetrapods were deposited.

Rainer R. Schoch & Dieter Seegis (2016)
A Middle Triassic palaeontological gold mine: the vertebrate deposits of Vellberg (Germany)
Palaeogeography, Palaeoclimatology, Palaeoecology (advance online publication)



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