This paper discusses the faunal content, the mammal biostratigraphy, and the environmental ecology of three important continental Tertiary vertebrate faunas from the Lower Rhine Embayment. The sites investigated are Rott (MP 30, Late Oligocene), Hambach 6C (MN 5, Middle Miocene), Frechen and Hambach 11 (both MN 16, Late Pliocene). Comparative analysis of the entire faunas shows the assemblages to exhibit many conformities in their general composition, presumably resulting from their preference for wet lowlands. It appears that very similar environmental conditions for vertebrates reoccurred during at least 20 Ma although the sites are located in a tectonically active region with high subsidence rates. Differences in the faunal composition are partly due to local differences in the depositional environment of the sites: lake deposits at the margin of the embayment (Rott), coal swamp and estuarine conditions in the centre of the embayment (Hambach 6C), and flood plain environments with small rivulets (Frechen and Hambach 11). The composition of the faunal assemblages (diversity and taxonomy) also documents faunal turnovers with extinctions and immigrations (Oligocene/Miocene and postMiddle Miocene), as a result of changing climate conditions.
Additional vertebrate faunal data were retrieved from two new assemblages collected from younger strata at the Hambach mine (Hambach 11C and 14). They are important for the understanding of the Plio-Pleistocene transition in the southern part of the Lower Rhine Embayment and for correlating depositional sequences in the Dutch/German borderland.