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Bernissart Dinosaurs and Early Cretaceous Terrestrial Ecosystems

Edited by Pascal Godefroit

Publication Year: 2012

In 1878, the first complete dinosaur skeleton was discovered in a coal mine in Bernissart, Belgium. Iguanodon, first described by Gideon Mantell on the basis of fragments discovered in England in 1824, was initially reconstructed as an iguana-like reptile or a heavily built, horned quadruped. However, the Bernissart skeleton changed all that. The animal was displayed in an upright posture similar to a kangaroo, and later with its tail off the ground like the dinosaur we know of today. Focusing on the Bernissant discoveries, this book presents the latest research on Iguanodon and other denizens of the Cretaceous ecosystems of Europe, Asia, and Africa. Pascal Godefroit and contributors consider the Bernissart locality itself and the new research programs that are underway there. The book also presents a systematic revision of Iguanodon; new material from Spain, Romania, China, and Kazakhstan; studies of other Early Cretaceous terrestrial ecosystems; and examinations of Cretaceous vertebrate faunas.

Published by: Indiana University Press

Series: Life of the Past

Title Page

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List of Contributors

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pp. xi-xii

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pp. xiii-xiv

On May 7, 1878, P.-J. Van Beneden announced to the Belgian Academy of Science that a major new discovery of fossils had been made at a colliery in Bernissart (southwest Belgium). Among the fossils were teeth that could be identified as belonging to the dinosaur named Iguanodon. What...

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pp. xv

This book was conceived during the symposium Tribute to Charles Darwin and Bernissart Iguanodons: New Perspectives on Vertebrate Evolution and Early Cretaceous Ecosystems, which was held February 9–13, 2009, at the Royal Belgian Institute of Natural Sciences (Brussels) and in Bernissart...

Part 1. New Investigations into the Iguanodon Sinkhole at Bernissart and Other Early Cretaceous Localities in the Mons Basin (Belgium)

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1. Bernissart and the Iguanodons: Historical Perspective and New Investigations

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pp. 3-20

The discovery of complete and articulated skeletons of Iguanodon at Bernissart in 1878 came at a time when the anatomy of dinosaurs was still poorly understood, and thus considerable advances were made possible. Here we briefly describe, mainly from documents in the archives of the...

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2. The Attempted Theft of Dinosaur Skeletons during the German Occupation of Belgium (1914–1918) and Some Other Cases of Looting Cultural Possessions of Natural History

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pp. 21-34

My contribution deals with the hitherto largely unknown attempts of German scientists to seize Belgian cultural possessions during World War I. Probably the most spectacular examples of these are the activities of German paleontologists and German natural history museums at the...

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3. A Short Introduction to the Geology of the Mons Basin and the Iguanodon Sinkhole, Belgium

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pp. 35-42

The Mons Basin is traditionally defined by the extension area of Meso-Cenozoic, mainly Cretaceous, sediments that accumulated within an east–west elongate subsiding zone in southwestern Belgium (Marlière, 1970; Fig. 3.1). The basin developed uncomfortably on Pennsylvanian coal measures....

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4. 3D Modeling of the Paleozoic Top Surface in the Bernissart Area and Integration of Data from Boreholes Drilled in the Iguanodon Sinkhole

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pp. 43-50

Since 1878–1881 and the discovery of numerous complete skeletons of dinosaurs in Bernissart (Belgium), many studies have been dedicated to the paleontological content of the Iguanodon Sinkhole. However, little is known about the geometry of the sinkhole and its integration within...

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5. The Karstic Phenomenon of the Iguanodon Sinkhole and the Geomorphological Situation of the Mons Basin during the Early Cretaceous

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pp. 51-62

During the Late Jurassic and the Early Cretaceous, an extensional tectonic regime induced fracturation in carbonated Mississippian formations, notably enhanced their permeability, and initiated karstification. The low hydraulic potential that prevailed during the Cretaceous gave birth...

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6. Geodynamic and Tectonic Context of Early Cretaceous Iguanodon-Bearing Deposits in the Mons Basin

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pp. 63-68

The Wealden facies sediments of the Mons Basin, where the Bernissart iguanodons were discovered, are affected by multiple tectonic features. Different systems of faulting and fracturing are observed in terms of type, orientation, movements, and dating: reverse and normal faults, and...

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7. Biostratigraphy of the Cretaceous Sediments Overlying the Wealden Facies in the Iguanodon Sinkhole at Bernissart

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pp. 69-78

The stratigraphy of the Cretaceous sediments overlying the dinosaur-bearing Wealden facies intersected by the BER 3 borehole in the Iguanodon Sinkhole at Bernissart (Mons Basin, Belgium) is assessed. These Cretaceous strata are Late Albian to Coniacian in age, according to the...

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8. On the Age of the Bernissart Iguanodons

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pp. 79-86

The present study is based on, first, samples collected at −322 m in the Iguanodon Sinkhole at Bernissart during the 1878–1881 excavations and stored in the collections of the Royal Belgian Institute of Natural Sciences of Brussels (Dejax et al., 2007a), and second, on the...

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9. The Paleoenvironment of the Bernissart Iguanodons: Sedimentological Analysis of the Lower Cretaceous Wealden Facies in the Bernissart Area

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pp. 87-96

The Wealden facies at Hautrage and Bernissart (Mons Basin, Belgium) have been investigated following different sedimentological parameters, including lithofacies evolution, mineralogical and granulometric data, and organic matter properties. A six-step paleoenvironmental...

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10. Mesofossil Plant Remains from the Barremian of Hautrage (Mons Basin, Belgium), with Taphonomy, Paleoecology, and Paleoenvironment Insights

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pp. 97-112

Megafossil plant remains were first reported from the Mons Basin in Belgium by Coemans (1867). However, the paleontological interest for this area really began from 1878, with the discovery of the Bernissart iguanodons in the Iguanodon Sinkhole at Bernissart. Megafossil plant specimens...

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11. Diagenesis of the Fossil Bones of Iguanodon bernissartensis from the Iguanodon Sinkhole

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pp. 113-136

We investigate the bone diagenesis of the Iguanodon skeletons discovered in the Iguanodon Sinkhole in 1878–1881. By means of x-ray diffraction and energy-dispersive spectrometry analysis, about 30 mineral phases were identified in the fossil bones of the Bernissart iguanodons. During...

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12. Histological Assessment of Vertebrate Remains in the 2003 Bernissart Drill

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pp. 137-146

After the 2003 drilling in the Iguanodon Sinkhole at Bernissart (BER 3 borehole), examination of the column revealed stony dark grayish remains at levels −296.5 m and −309 m, and hence within the Wealden clays levels. Microscopic examinations of the remains (paleohistology) conclusively...

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13. Early Cretaceous Dinosaur Remains from Baudour (Belgium)

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pp. 147-154

We describe two dinosaur bones found in the Bois de Baudour clay quarries (Mons Basin, Belgium) of the Baudour Clays Formation (middle Barremian to earliest Aptian) during their exploitation period. Apart from the numerous skeletons found in the Sainte-Barbe pit at Bernissart...

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14. Geological Model and Cyclic Mass Mortality Scenarios for the Lower Cretaceous Bernissart Iguanodon Bonebeds

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pp. 155-171

The Iguanodon Sinkhole at Bernissart (Belgium) is an exceptional fossil deposit as a result of the quantity and preservation quality of Cretaceous basal Iguanodontia found by coal mine workers in 1878. Efforts to unravel the processes that caused the accumulation and preservation of many...

Part 2. The Bernissart Iguanodons and Their Kin

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15. Iguanodontian Taxa (Dinosauria: Ornithischia) from the Lower Cretaceous of England and Belgium

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pp. 175-212

This review summarizes current understanding of the history, anatomy, and taxonomy of British and Belgian iguanodontian dinosaurs. The earliest iguanodontian from this circumscribed region is Berriasian in age and represented by a well-preserved but crushed dentary with many teeth in situ...

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16. The Brain of Iguanodon and Mantellisaurus: Perspectives on Ornithopod Evolution

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pp. 213-224

Information on the structure of the brain of the basal iguanodontian dinosaurs Iguanodon bernissartensis and Mantellisaurus atherfieldensis, from the Early Cretaceous of Bernissart, is presented on the basis of computed tomographic scanning and 3D reconstruction of three braincases. The...

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17. Hypsilophodon foxii and Other Smaller Bipedal Ornithischian Dinosaurs from the Lower Cretaceous of Southern England

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pp. 225-282

The cranial and postcranial anatomy and biology is detailed for Hypsilophodon foxii, a small cursorial (not arboreal) basal euornithopod with no confirmed record outside of the Isle of Wight (Late Barremian) of southern England. Three large distal femora with a wide distal extensor groove are...

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18. The African Cousins of the European Iguanodontids

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pp. 283-292

In 1966, excavations in the Gadoufaoua locality (Niger) allowed us to describe two new genera of Early Cretaceous basal Iguanodontoidea from Africa: the first one, Ouranosaurus nigeriensis Taquet, 1976, was a gracile and facultative bipedal Iguanodontoidea, with bumped nasals on the skull...

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19. Anatomy and Relationships of Bolong yixianensis, an Early Cretaceous Iguanodontoid Dinosaur from Western Liaoning, China

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pp. 293-334

The skeleton (YHZ-001) of a new basal iguanodontoid was discovered in the middle part of the Yixian Formation in western Liaoning, China. Bolong yixianensis Wu, Godefroit, and Hu, 2010, is characterized by cranial, dental, and postcranial autapomorphies, as well as a unique combination...

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20. A New Basal Hadrosauroid Dinosaur from the Upper Cretaceous of Kazakhstan

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pp. 335-358

Hadrosauroidea is a stem-based taxon defined as all Iguanodontoidea closer to Parasaurolophus than to Iguanodon (Sereno, 1997, amended). Basal hadrosauroids (=nonhadrosaurid Hadrosauroidea) were particularly diversified in Asia during the Early Cretaceous. Some of them...

Part 3. Early Cretaceous Terrestrial Ecosystems In and Outside Europe

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21. Dinosaur Remains from the “Sables Verts” (Early Cretaceous, Albian) of the Eastern Paris Basin

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pp. 363-378

Dinosaur remains have been known from the Albian “Sables verts” (greensand) of the Argonne region of the eastern Paris Basin since the 1870s, with most of the known material described in a monograph by Sauvage (1882). This material had been found in the course of the commercial...

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22. Dinosaur Faunas from the Early Cretaceous (Valanginian–Albian) of Spain

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pp. 379-408

The dinosaur skeletal record from the Early Cretaceous of Spain indicates a diverse fauna, including the richest assemblage known from continental Europe for the Hauterivian–Aptian interval. The Spanish record consists of theropods (all tetanurans: spinosaurids, carcharodontosaurian...

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23. New Early Cretaceous Multituberculate Mammals from the Iberian Peninsula

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pp. 409-434

The most abundant and continuous fossil record of the Early Cretaceous “Plagiaulacida” suborder of multituberculates comes from Western Europe and that of the Iberian Peninsula is becoming one of the richest and most continuous anywhere in the world. Evidence for that are the new finds from...

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24. Danish Dinosaurs: A Review

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pp. 435-452

In Denmark, continental deposits with dinosaur remains are only exposed on the island of Bornholm in the Baltic Sea. These fossiliferous formations are Aalenian (Middle Jurassic) and Berriasian (Early Cretaceous) in age. The Middle Jurassic Bagå Formation has produced large dinosaur...

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25. The Age of Lycoptera Beds (Jehol Biota) in Transbaikalia (Russia) and Correlation with Mongolia and China

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pp. 453-466

The volcanogenic sedimentary deposits, which contain abundant remains of lacustrine ecosystems, are widespread in the territory of Transbaikalia (Russia), Mongolia, and northeastern China. In the nineteenth century, A. P. Gerassimov was the first to discover fossils from the Jehol Biota in...

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26. A New Basal Ornithomimosaur (Dinosauria: Theropoda) from the Early Cretaceous Yixian Formation, Northeast China

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pp. 467-488

We describe a new basal Ornithomimosauria from a specimen (JLUMJZ07b1) discovered in the lowest beds (Lower Valanginian–Lower Barremian, Lower Cretaceous) of the Yixian Formation in western Liaoning province, P.R. China. Hexing qingyi gen. et sp. nov. is characterized...

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27. Australia’s Polar Early Cretaceous Dinosaurs

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pp. 489-504

Although meager in terms of the number and completeness of the specimens known of it, the Early Cretaceous dinosaurs of southeastern Australia are notable for being a significant part of a polar tetrapod assemblage that during the Aptian occupied the coldest terrestrial region known on earth...

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28. Assessment of the Potential for a Jehol Biota–like Cretaceous Polar Fossil Assemblage in Victoria, Australia

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pp. 505-518

An abundance of exquisitely preserved birds, mammals, and feathered dinosaurs, among other fossils, has been recovered from the Early Cretaceous Jehol Biota of northeastern China. The similarities, both in the nature of those deposits and the plant, arthropod, and fish fossils they contain...

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29. Freshwater Hybodont Sharks in Early Cretaceous Ecosystems: A Review

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pp. 519-532

Hybodont sharks capable of entering rivers and lakes were quite common during the Early Cretaceous, and they showed diverse adaptations to a number of diets. However, the concept of freshwater sharks is difficult to define in paleontology. In some cases, the discovery of both young...

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30. The Late Cretaceous Continental Vertebrate Fauna from Iharkút (Western Hungary): A Review

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pp. 533-570

The composition of the Late Cretaceous (Santonian) continental vertebrate fauna of Iharkút (Csehbánya Formation, Bakony, western Hungary, Central Europe) is reviewed here. In the last decade, fieldwork has produced almost 5,000 associated and isolated bones and teeth belonging to at least...

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31. First Discovery of Maastrichtian (Latest Cretaceous) Terrestrial Vertebrates in Rusca Montană Basin (Romania)

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pp. 571-582

First mentioned by F. Nopcsa, Haţeg Island was a paleogeographical concept sketched by this famous paleontologist in order to explain the presence of small-sized dinosaurs in uppermost Cretaceous localities from Transylvania (western Romania), and particularly from the...

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32. First Late Maastrichtian (Latest Cretaceous) Vertebrate Assemblage from Provence (Vitrolles-la-Plaine, Southern France)

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pp. 583-598

A Late Maastrichtian locality from Provence (southwestern France) has yielded a diversified vertebrate fauna, including a “zhelestid” mammal, Valentinella vitrollense, in association with lacertilians, cryptodiran chelonians, alligatoroid crocodilians, and a varied dinosaur fauna including...

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33. Reassessment of the Posterior Brain Region in Multituberculate Mammals

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pp. 599-612

Two distinct types of morphology have been suggested to characterize the brains of Mesozoic mammals. In some primitive mammals such as Triconodon and multituberculates, the vermis and the paraflocculi are large, with no apparent cerebellar hemispheres and no dorsal...


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pp. 615-629

E-ISBN-13: 9780253005700
E-ISBN-10: 0253005701
Print-ISBN-13: 9780253357212

Page Count: 648
Illustrations: 264 b&w illus.
Publication Year: 2012

Series Title: Life of the Past