Tithonian

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System/
Period
Series/
Epoch
Stage/
Age
Age (Ma)
Cretaceous Lower/
Early
Berriasian younger
Jurassic Upper/
Late
Tithonian 145.0–152.1
Kimmeridgian 152.1–157.3
Oxfordian 157.3–163.5
Mid/
Middle
Callovian 163.5–166.1
Bathonian 166.1–168.3
Bajocian 168.3–170.3
Aalenian 170.3–174.1
Lower/
Early
Toarcian 174.1–182.7
Pliensbachian 182.7–190.8
Sinemurian 190.8–199.3
Hettangian 199.3–201.3
Triassic Upper/
Late
Rhaetian older
Subdivision of the Jurassic system
according to the IUGS, as of July 2012.

In the geological timescale the Tithonian is the latest age of the Late Jurassic epoch or the uppermost stage of the Upper Jurassic series. It spans the time between 152.2 ± 4 Ma and 145.5 ± 4 Ma (million years ago). It is preceded by the Kimmeridgian and followed by the Berriasian stage (part of the Cretaceous).[1]

Stratigraphic definitions[edit]

The Tithonian was introduced in scientific literature by German stratigrapher Albert Oppel in 1865. The name Tithonian is unusual in geological stage names because it is derived from Greek mythology. Tithonus was the son of Laomedon of Troy. He fell in love with Eos, the Greek goddess of dawn and finds his place in the stratigraphy because this stage, the Tithonian, finds itself hand in hand with the dawn of the Cretaceous.

The base of the Tithonian stage is at the base of the ammonite biozone of Hybonoticeras hybonotum. A global reference profile (a GSSP or golden spike) for the base of the Tithonian had in 2009 not yet been established.

The top of the Tithonian stage (the base of the Berriasian stage and the Cretaceous system) is at the first appearance of fossils of ammonite species Berriasella jacobi in the stratigraphic record.

Subdivision[edit]

The Tithonian is often subdivided into Lower/Early, Middle and Upper/Late substages or subages. The Late Tithonian is coeval with the Portlandian stage of British stratigraphy.

The Tithonian stage contains seven ammonite biozones in the Tethys domain, from top to base:

Lithofacies[edit]

In the ocean of Tethys, the Tithonian has a calcareous facies with a typical cephalopod fauna. The Solnhofen limestone of southern Germany, which is known for its fossils (especially Archaeopteryx), is of Tithonian age.

Palaeontology[edit]

†Ankylosaurs[edit]

Ankylosauria of the Tithonian
Taxa Presence Location Description Images
Morrison Formation, Wyoming, USA The smallest and the earliest well-known ankylosaur. Its skull measures only 29 cm in length, and its total body length is an estimated three to four meters.
Gargoyleosaurus skeleton
  • Mymoorapelta maysi
Morrison Formation, Colorado, USA A poorly known early ankylosaurian.

Theropods[edit]

Theropods of the Tithonian
Taxa Presence Location Description Images
Morrison Formation, USA The most common and most highly studied theropod dinosaur.
Allosaurus
Solnhofen, Germany The late Jurassic is notable for the first appearance in the fossil record of birds, in the form of Archaeopteryx, found in limestone quarries in Germany.
Morrison Formation, USA Fossils are less common than those of Allosaurus.
Solnhofen, Germany Found near Archaeopteryx fossils.
Port Waikato, New Zealand Only known Tithonian dinosaur in New Zealand.
It is believed that this creature was similar to Compsognathus longipes, shown here.

†Basal Ornithischians[edit]

Basal ornithischians of the Tithonian
Taxa Presence Location Description Images
Fruita, Colorado, USA Fruitadens was a heterodontosaurid and the smallest known ornithischian dinosaur, weighing less than 2 pounds (0.91 kg) and measuring a little over 2 feet (0.61 m) in length. It is also one of the latest surviving heterodontosaurids known.

†Ceratopsians[edit]

Ceratopsia of the Tithonian
Taxa Presence Location Description Images
 ? Chaoyang area, Liaoning, China One of the earliest ceratopsians
Chaoyangsaurus
Hebei, China A member of the family Chaoyangsauridae, it was one of the earliest ceratopsians

†Ornithopods[edit]

Ornithopoda of the Tithonian
Taxa Presence Location Description Images
Kimmeridgian to ?Berriasian Wyoming, USA; England; France Camptosaurus could be more than 7.9 meters long (26 ft), and 2.0 meters tall (6.7 ft) at the hips. They had heavy bodies but, as well as walking on four legs (quadrupedal), could also rear up to walk on two legs (bipedal). This genus is probably closely related to the ancestor of the later iguanodontid and hadrosaurid dinosaurs. It probably ate cycads with its beak.
Othnielosaurus
Lourinhã, Portugal A camptosaurid iguanodont

†Plesiosauria[edit]

Plesiosaurs of the Tithonian
Taxa Presence Location Description Images
Simolestes

†Pterosauria[edit]

Pterosaurs of the Tithonian
Taxa Presence Location Description Images
Solnhofen, Germany
Rhamphorhynchus
Solnhofen, Germany Short head with pin-like teeth, short tail but from a normally long tailed group "Rhamphorhynchoidea"
Solnhofen, Germany
Solnhofen, Germany
Morrison Formation, Wyoming, USA Known only from an intact fourth metacarpal, 57.5 millimetres long
Solnhofen, Germany
Morrison Formation, Wyoming, USA
Solnhofen, Germany
Solnhofen, Germany
Neuquén, Argentina

†Stegosaurs[edit]

Stegosaurs of the Tithonian
Taxa Presence Location Description Images
Kimmeridgian to Early Tithonian Morrison Formation, Colorado, Utah, Wyoming, USA Averaging around 9 metres (30 ft) long and 4 metres (14 ft) tall, the quadrupedal Stegosaurus is one of the most easily identifiable dinosaurs, due to the distinctive double row of kite-shaped plates rising vertically along its arched back and the two pairs of long spikes extending horizontally near the end of its tail.
Stegosaurus

†Sauropoda[edit]

Sauropoda of the Tithonian
Taxa Presence Location Description Images
Apatosaurus
Diplodocus
Mamenchisaurus
Utah, Colorado, Wyoming and Montana, Morrison Formation, USA

†Thalattosuchians[edit]

Thalattosuchians of the Tithonian
Taxa Presence Location Description Images
  1. Dakosaurus maximus
  2. Dakosaurus andiniensis

A large genus of metriorhynchid, that was a high order predator which fed on other marine reptiles

  1. The type species from Western Europe of the Late Jurassic (Early Tithonian).
  2. Argentina of the Late Jurassic-Early Cretaceous (Early Tithonian), knicknamed "Godzilla".
Dakosaurus, a marine crocodilian.
Geosaurus, a marine crocodilian.
Metriorhynchus, a marine crocodilian.
  1. G. giganteus
  2. G. gracilis
  3. G. suevicus:
  4. G. saltillense:
  5. G. vignaudi:
  6. G. araucanensis:
  1. Western Europe
  2. Western Europe
  3. Western Europe
  4. Mexico
  5. Mexico
  6. Argentina

A relatively small metriorhynchid genus. No known species of Geosaurus attained lengths in excess of 3 meters (10 feet). There were multiple Geosaurus species alive during the Tithonian.

  1. The type species from Western Europe of the Late Jurassic (Early Tithonian).
  2. Western Europe of the Late Jurassic (Early Tithonian). Was originally the type species of the genus Rhacheosaurus.
  3. Western Europe of the Late Jurassic (Early Tithonian)
  4. Mexico of the Late Jurassic (Early Tithonian)
  5. Mexico of the Late Jurassic (Middle Tithonian)
  6. Argentina of the Late Jurassic-Early Cretaceous (Early Tithonian)
M. potens
An opportunistic carnivore that fed on fish, belemnites and other marine animals and possible carrion. Metriorhynchus grew to an average adult length of 3 meters (9.6 feet).

†Belemnites[edit]

Belemnites of the Tithonian
Taxa Presence Location Description Images
Small belemnite fossils

References[edit]

Notes[edit]

  1. ^ See for a detailed version of the geologic timescale Gradstein et al. (2004)

Literature[edit]

  • Gradstein, F.M.; Ogg, J.G. & Smith, A.G.; (2004): A Geologic Time Scale 2004, Cambridge University Press.
  • Oppel, C.A.; 1865: Die Tithonische Etage, Zeitschrift der Deutschen Geologischen Gesellschaft, 1865: pp 535–558. (German)

External links[edit]

Jurassic Period
Lower/Early Jurassic Middle Jurassic Upper/Late Jurassic
Hettangian | Sinemurian
Pliensbachian | Toarcian
Aalenian | Bajocian
Bathonian | Callovian
Oxfordian | Kimmeridgian
Tithonian