Geological Magazine

Original Articles

New information about the stratigraphic position and age of the sauropod Aragosaurus ischiaticus from the Early Cretaceous of the Iberian Peninsula

J. I. CANUDOa1 c1, J. M. GASCAa1, M. MORENO-AZANZAa1 and M. AURELLa2

a1 Grupo Aragosaurus-IUCA (http://www.aragosaurus.com), Paleontología, Facultad de Ciencias, C/ Pedro Cerbuna 12, Universidad de Zaragoza, 50009 Zaragoza, Spain

a2 Estratigrafía, Departamento de Ciencias de la Tierra, Facultad de Ciencias, C/ Pedro Cerbuna 12, Universidad de Zaragoza, 50009 Zaragoza, Spain

Abstract

The sauropod Aragosaurus ischiaticus Sanz, Buscalioni, Casanovas & Santafé, 1987 was the first dinosaur to be described in Spain. The holotype was recovered from the site of Las Zabacheras (Galve, Teruel province). This site has traditionally been situated in the El Castellar Formation (in the lower part of the Wealden facies). Recently, it has been proposed that the remains of Aragosaurus stem from the Villar del Arzobispo Formation (late Tithonian–upper part of the early Berriasian), which would mean that the sauropod was almost 15 million years older than previously thought. Detailed field work has been carried out, making it possible to pinpoint the position of the low-angle unconformity between the Villar del Arzobispo Formation and the El Castellar Formation. This unconformity originated as a result of block tilting that occurred during the early stages of the Early Cretaceous rifting episode. The upper levels of the Jurassic sequence (i.e. the Villar del Arzobispo Formation) were exposed to erosion and karstification, leading to the formation of a discontinuous conglomeratic level. This level has been locally preserved at the bottom of the Wealden syn-rift sequence (i.e. the El Castellar Formation). The results of our detailed mapping demonstrate that the Aragosaurus holotype was found in the lower part of the El Castellar Formation. Moreover, our revision of the existing datings suggests that the El Castellar Formation as a whole is Valanginian?–early Barremian in age. Given that Aragosaurus was located in its lower part, it is probably Valanginian?–Hauterivian in age.

(Received January 11 2011)

(Accepted March 10 2011)

(Online publication September 01 2011)

Keywords:

  • Aragosaurus;
  • dinosaur;
  • dating;
  • El Castellar Formation;
  • Villar del Arzobispo Formation;
  • Early Cretaceous;
  • Spain

Correspondence:

c1 Author for correspondence: jicanudo@unizar.es

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