Skip to main content

Marine vertebrate remains from the Toarcian–Aalenian succession of southern Beaujolais, Rhône, France


A previously undocumented marine vertebrate fauna comprising ichthyosaur, plesiosaur, marine crocodilian and fish remains from the Toarcian–Aalenian succession at Lafarge quarry, southern Beaujolais (Rhône, France) is described on the basis of both historical collections and new discoveries. The taxonomic composition of the Lafarge quarry marine vertebrate assemblage highlights its cosmopolitan nature and strong relationships with taxa known from elsewhere in Europe. Several groups are recorded for the first time in the Toarcian–Aalenian succession of France, implying new palaeobiogeographic interpretations and prompting discussion of marine amniote diversity during this interval.

Corresponding author
Author for correspondence:
Hide All
Agassiz, L. 1833–1844. Recherches sur les poissons fossiles. Petitpierre, Neuchâtel. 1420 pp.
Andrews, C. W. 1910. A Descriptive Catalogue of the Marine Reptiles of the Oxford Clay, Part I. London: British Museum of Natural History, 205 pp.
Arnaud, M., Monleau, C. & Wenz, S. 1976. Découverte de restes d'ichthyosaures dans l'Aalénien du Massif de la Loube (Var). Bulletin du Muséum d'Histoire Naturelle de Marseille 36,1718.
Bardet, N. 1994. Extinction events among Mesozoic marine reptiles. Historical Biology 7, 313–24.
Bardet, N., Fernández, M., Garcia-Ramos, J. C., Pereda Suberbiola, X., Pinuela, L., Ruiz-Omeñaca, J. I. & Vincent, P. 2008 a. A juvenile plesiosaur from the Pliensbachian (Lower Jurassic) of Asturias, Spain. Journal of Vertebrate Paleontology 28, 258–63.
Bardet, N., Pereda Suberbiola, X. & Ruiz-Omeñaca, J. I. 2008 b. Mesozoic marine reptiles from the Iberian Peninsula. Geo-Temas 10, 1245–48.
Baudin, F., Herbin, J.-P. & Vandenbroucke, M. 1990. Mapping and geochemical characterization of Toarcian organic matter in the Mediterranean Tethys. Organic Geochemistry 16, 677–87.
Benson, R. B. J., Butler, R. J., Lindgren, J. & Smith, A. S. 2010. Mesozoic marine tetrapod diversity: mass extinctions and temporal heterogeneity in geological megabiases affecting vertebrates. Proceedings of the Royal Society B: Biological Sciences 277, 829–34.
Benson, R. B., Ketchum, H. F. & Noé, L. F. 2011. New information on Hauffiosaurus (Reptilia, Plesiosauria) based on a new species from the Alum Shale Member (Lower Toarcian: Lower Jurassic) of Yorkshire, UK. Palaeontology 54, 547–71.
Benson, R. B. J., Evans, M. & Druckenmiller, P. S. 2012. High diversity, low disparity and small body size in plesiosaurs (Reptilia, Sauropterygia) from the Triassic–Jurassic boundary. PLoS ONE 7: e31838.
Benton, M. J. 1990 a. Mass extinctions in the fossil record of late Palaeozoic and Mesozoic tetrapods. In Extinction Events in Earth History (eds Kauffman, E. G. & Walliser, O. H.), pp. 239–51. Springer, Lecture Notes in the Earth Sciences vol. 30, 432 pp.
Benton, M. J. 1990 b. Reptiles. In Evolutionary Trends (ed. McNamara, K.), pp. 279300. London: Belhaven, 368 pp.
Benton, M. J. 1993. Reptiles. In The Fossil Record 2 (ed. Benton, M. J.), pp. 681715. London: Chapman and Hall.
Benton, M. J. & Spencer, P. S. 1995. Fossil reptiles of Great Britain. Geological Conservation Review Series, vol. 10, series 4. London: Chapman and Hall, London, 386 pp.
Benton, M. J. & Taylor, M. A. 1984. Marine reptiles from the Upper Lias (Lower Toarcian, Early Jurassic) of the Yorkshire coast. Proceedings of the Yorkshire Geological Society 44, 399429.
Caine, H. & Benton, M. J. 2011. Ichthyosauria from the Upper Lias of Strawberry Bank, England. Palaeontology 54, 1069–93.
Caswell, B. A., Coe, A. L. & Cohen, A. S. 2009. New range data for marine invertebrate species across the early Toarcian (Early Jurassic) mass extinction. Journal of the Geological Society , London 166, 859–72.
Cope, J. C. W., Getty, T. A., Howarth, M., Morton, N. & Torrens, H.S. 1980. A Correlation of Jurassic Rocks in the British Isles. Part One: Introduction and Lower Jurassic. Geological Society of London Special Report, no. 14, 73 pp.
De Graciansky, P.-C., Dardeau, G., Dommergues, J. L., Durlet, C., Marchand, D., Dumont, T., Hesselbo, S. P., Jacquin, T., Goggin, V., Meister, C., Mouterde, R., Rey, J. & Vail, P. R. 1998. Ammonite biostratigraphic correlation and Early Jurassic sequence stratigraphy in France: comparisons with some U.K. sections. In Mesozoic and Cenozoic Sequence Stratigraphy of European Basins (eds , P.-C. De Graciansky, , , T. Jacquin, , , X. Farley, & Vail, P.R.), pp. 583622. SEPM Special Publication no. 60.
Delfino, M. & Dal Sasso, C. 2006. Marine reptiles (Thalattosuchia) from the Early Jurassic of Lombardy (northern Italy). Geobios 39, 346–54.
Delsate, D., Duffin, C. J. & Weiss, R. 2002. A new microvertebrate fauna from the Middle Hettangian (Early Jurassic). Memoirs of the Geological Survey of Belgium 16, 184.
Dera, G., Neige, P., Dommergues, J.-L. & Brayard, A. 2011. Ammonite paleobiogeography during the Pliensbachian–Toarcian crisis (Early Jurassic) reflecting paleoclimate, eustasy, and extinctions. Global and Planetary Change 78, 92105.
Elmi, S. & Rulleau, L. 1991. Le Toarcien des carrières Lafarge (Bas-Beaujolais, France): cadre biostratigraphique de référence pour la région lyonnaise. Geobios 24, 315–31.
Elmi, S. & Rulleau, L. 1993. Le Jurassique du Beaujolais méridional. Geobios 15, 139–55.
Fernández, M. 1999. A new ichthyosaur from the Los Molles Formation (Early Bajocian, Neuquén Basin, Argentina). Journal of Paleontology 73, 677–81.
Fernández, M. 2003. Ophthalmosauria (Ichthyosauria) forefin from the Aalenian–Bajocian boundary of Mendoza Province, Argentina. Journal of Vertebrate Paleontology 23, 691–4.
Fischer, V., Guiomar, M. & Godefroit, P. 2011. New data on the palaeobiogeography of Early Jurassic marine reptiles: the Toarcian ichthyosaur fauna of the Vocontian Basin (SE France). Neues Jarhbuch für Geologie und Paläontologie 261, 111–27.
Gasparini, Z. 1992. Marine reptiles of the Circum–Pacific region. In The Jurassic of the Circum–Pacific (ed. Westermann, G.E.G.), pp. 361–4. Cambridge University Press, Series World and Regional Geology no. 3.
Godefroit, P. 1993. Les grands ichthyosaures sinémuriens d'Arlon. Bulletin de l'Institut Royal des Sciences Naturelles de Belgique Sciences de la Terre 63, 2571.
Godefroit, P. 1996. Un crâne d’Ichthyosaurus communis (Reptilia, Ichthyosauria) du Sinémurien supérieur de Lorraine belge. Bulletin de la Société belge de Géologie 104, 7789.
Gómez, J. J. & Goy, A. 2011. Warming-driven mass extinction in the Early Toarcian (Early Jurassic) of northern and central Spain. Correlation with other time-equivalent European sections. Palaeogeography, Palaeoclimatology, Palaeoecology 306, 176–95.
Großmann, F. 2007. The taxonomic and phylogenetic position of the Plesiosauroidea from the Lower Jurassic Posidonia Shale of south-west Germany. Palaeontology 50, 545–64.
Harries, P. J. & Little, C. T. S. 1999. The early Toarcian (Early Jurassic) and the Cenomanian–Turonian (Late Cretaceous) mass extinctions: similarities and contrasts. Palaeogeography, Palaeoclimatology, Palaeoecology 154, 3966.
Hesselbo, S. P., Jenkyns, H. C., Duarte, L.V. & Oliveira, L. C. V. 2007. Carbon-isotope record of the Early Jurassic (Toarcian) Oceanic Anoxic Event from fossil wood and marine carbonate (Lusitanian Basin, Portugal). Earth and Planetary Science Letters 253, 455–70.
Jenkyns, H. C. 1988. The early Toarcian (Jurassic) event: stratigraphy, sedimentary, and geochemical evidence. American Journal of Science 288, 101–51.
Kear, B. P. 2005. Cranial morphology of Platypterygius longmani Wade, 1990 (Reptilia: Ichthyosauria) from the Lower Cretaceous of Australia. Zoological Journal of the Linnean Society 145, 583622.
Kear, B. P. 2012. A revision of Australia's Jurassic plesiosaurs. Palaeontology 55, 1125–38.
Lepage, Y., Buffetaut, E., Hua, S., Martin, J. E. & Tabouelle, J. 2008. Catalogue descriptif, anatomique, géologique et historique des fossiles présentés à l'exposition ‘Les crocodiliens fossiles de Normandie’ (6 novembre – 14 décembre 2008). Bulletin de la Société Géologique de Normandie et des Amis du Muséum du Havre 95, 5152.
Little, C. T. S. & Benton, M. J. 1995. Early Jurassic mass extinction: a global long-term event. Geology 23, 495–98.
Macchioni, F. & Cecca, F. 2002. Biodiversity and biogeography of middle–late Liassic ammonoids: implications for the Early Toarcian mass extinction. Geobios Mémoire spécial 24, 166–75.
Maisch, M.W. 2001. Neue Exemplare der seltenen Ichthyosauriergattung Suevoleviathan Maisch 1998 aus dem Unteren Jura von Südwestdeutschland. Geologica et Palaeontologica 35, 145–60.
Maisch, M. W. 2008. Revision der Gattung Stenopterygius Jaekel, 1904 emend. von Huene, 1922 (Reptilia: Ichthyosauria) aus dem unteren Jura Westeuropas. Palaeodiversity 1, 227–71.
Maisch, M. W. & Ansorge, J. 2004. The Liassic ichthyosaur Stenopterygius cf. quadriscissus from the lower Toarcian of Dobbertin (northern Germany) and some considerations on lower Toarcian marine reptile paleobiogeography. Paläontologische Zeitschrift 78, 161–71.
Maisey, J. 1978. Growth and form of finspines in hybodont sharks. Palaeontology, 21, 657–66.
Martin, J. E., Fischer, V., Vincent, P. & Suan, G. 2012. A longirostrine Temnodontosaurus (Ichthyosauria) with comments on Early Jurassic ichthyosaur niche partitioning and disparity. Palaeontology 55, 9951005.
Maxwell, E. E. 2012. New metrics to differentiate species of Stenopterygius (Reptilia: Ichthyosauria) from the Lower Jurassic of southwestern Germany. Journal of Paleontology 86, 105–15.
Maxwell, E. E., Fernández, M. S. & Schoch, R. R. 2012. First diagnostic marine reptile remains from the Aalenian (Middle Jurassic): a new ichthyosaur from southwestern Germany. PLoS ONE 7, e41692.
Maxwell, E. E, Zammit, M. & Druckenmiller, P. S. 2012. Morphology and orientation of the ichthyosaurian femur. Journal of Vertebrate Paleontology 32, 1207–11.
Mcgowan, C. 1996. Giant ichthyosaurs of the Early Jurassic. Canadian Journal of Earth Sciences 33, 1011–21.
McGowan, C. & Motani, R. 2003. Part 8 Ichthyopterygia. In Handbook of Paleoherpetology (ed. Sues, H.-D.). München: Verlag Dr. Friedrich Pfeil, 175 pp.
Nybelin, O. 1962. Preliminary note on two species previously named Leptolepis bronni Agassiz. Arkiv för Zoologi, Serie 2 18, 303–6.
Nybelin, O. 1974. A Revision of Leptolepid Fishes. Acta Regiae Societatis Scientiarum et Litterarum Gothoburgensis. Zoologica 9, 202 pp.
Pierce, S. & Benton, M. J. 2006. Pelagosaurus typus Bronn, 1841 (Mesoeucrocodylia: Thalattosuchia) from the Upper Lias (Toarcian, Lower Jurassic) of Somerset, England. Journal of Vertebrate Paleontology 26, 621–35.
Rees, J. 2008. Interrelationships of Mesozoic hybodont sharks as indicated by dental morphology – preliminary results. Acta geologica polonica 58, 217–21.
Riegraf, W. 1985. Mikrofauna, Biostratigraphie und Fazies im Unteren Toarcium Südwestdeutchlands und Vergleiche mit benachbarten Gebieten. Tübinger Mikropaläontologische Mitteilungen 3, 1232.
Rulleau, L. 1997. Nouvelles observations sur le Toarcien inférieur de la Région lyonnaise. Géologie de la France, 2, 1322.
Rulleau, L. 2006. Biostratigraphie et paléontologie du Lias supérieur et du Dogger de la région Lyonnaise (eds Rulleau, L. & la Section Géologie et Paléontologie du Comité d'Entreprise Lafarge Ciments). Dedale Editions, 381 pp.
Salisbury, S. & Frey, E. 2000. A biomechanical transformation model for the evolution of semi-spheroidal articulations between adjoining vertebral bodies in crocodilians. In Crocodilian Biology and Evolution (eds Grigg, G. C., Seebacher, F. & Franklin, C. E.), 85134. Chipping Norton: Surrey Beatty & Sons.
Sander, P. M. 2000. Ichthyosauria: their diversity, distribution, and phylogeny. Paläontologische Zeitschrift 74, 135.
Sander, P. M. & Bucher, H. 1993. An ichthyosaur from the uppermost Toarcian of southern France. Neues Jahrbuch für Geologie und Paläontologie, Monatshefte 1993, 631–40.
Smith, A. S. & Radley, J. D. 2007. A marine reptile fauna from the Early Jurassic Saltford Shale (Blue Lias Formation) of central England. Proceedings of the Yorkshire Geological Society 56, 253–60.
Smith, A. S. & Vincent, P. 2010. A new genus of pliosaur (Reptilia: Sauropterygia) from the Lower Jurassic of Holzmaden, Germany. Palaeontology 53, 1049–63.
Smith, A. S., Araújo, R. & Mateus, O. 2012. Lusonectes sauvagei, a new plesiosauroid from the Toarcian (Lower Jurassic) of Alhadas, Portugal. Acta Palaeontologica Polonica 57, 257–66.
Suan, G., Mattioli, E., Pittet, B., Mailliot, S. & Lécuyer, C. 2008. Evidence for major environmental perturbation prior to and during the Toarcian (Early Jurassic) oceanic anoxic event from the Lusitanian Basin, Portugal. Paleoceanography 23, PA1202.
Suan, G., Mattioli, E., Pittet, B., Lécuyer, C., Suchéras-Marx, B., Duarte, L.V., Philippe, M., Reggiani, L. & Martineau, F. 2010. Secular environmental precursors to Early Toarcian (Jurassic) extreme climate changes. Earth and Planetary Science Letters 290, 448–58.
Thies, D. 1991. The osteology of the bony fish Tetragonolepis semicincta BRONN 1830 (Actinopterygii, †Semionotiformes) from the Early Jurassic (Lower Toarcian) of Germany. Geologica et Palaeontologica 25, 251–97.
Thorne, P. M., Ruta, M. & Benton, M. J. 2011. Resetting the evolution of marine reptiles at the Triassic-Jurassic boundary. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences 108, 8339–44.
Urlichs, M., Wild, R. & Ziegler, B. 1994. Der Posidonien-Schiefer des unteren Juras und seine Fossilien. Stuttgarter Beiträge zur Naturkunde, Serie C 36, 195.
Vincent, P. 2011. A re-examination of Hauffiosaurus zanoni, a pliosauroid from the Toarcian (Early Jurassic) of Germany. Journal of Vertebrate Paleontology 31, 340–51.
Vincent, P., Bardet, N. & Morel, N. 2007. An elasmosaurid plesiosaur from the Aalenian (Middle Jurassic) of Western France. Neues Jahrbuch für Geologie und Paläontologie, Abhandlungen 243, 363–70.
Vincent, P. & Smith, A. S. 2009. A redescription of Plesiosaurus propinquus Tate & Blake, 1876 (Reptilia, Plesiosauria), from the Lower Jurassic (Toarcian) of Yorkshire, England. Proceedings of the Yorkshire Geological Society 57, 151–60.
Vullo, R. 2011. Direct evidence of hybodont shark predation on Late Jurassic ammonites. Naturwissenschaften 98, 545–49.
Wenz, S. 1967. Compléments à l'étude des Poissons Actinoptérygiens du Jurassique français. Cahiers de Paléontologie, Editions du CNRS, 276 pp.
Westphal, F. 1962. Die Krokodilier des deutschen und englischen oberen Lias. Palaeontographica A 118, 23118.
Wignall, P. B., Newton, R. J. & Little, C. T. S. 2005. The timing of paleoenvironmental change and cause-and-effect relationships during the Early Jurassic mass extinction in Europe. American Journal of Science 305, 1014–32.
Zammit, M., Norris, R. M. & Kear, B. P. 2010. The Australian Cretaceous ichthyosaur Platypterygius australis: a description and review of postcranial remains. Journal of Vertebrate Paleontology 30, 1726–35.
Recommend this journal

Email your librarian or administrator to recommend adding this journal to your organisation's collection.

Geological Magazine
  • ISSN: 0016-7568
  • EISSN: 1469-5081
  • URL: /core/journals/geological-magazine
Please enter your name
Please enter a valid email address
Who would you like to send this to? *



Altmetric attention score

Full text views

Total number of HTML views: 0
Total number of PDF views: 0 *
Loading metrics...

Abstract views

Total abstract views: 0 *
Loading metrics...

* Views captured on Cambridge Core between <date>. This data will be updated every 24 hours.

Usage data cannot currently be displayed