Cretaceous marine amniotes of Australia: perspectives on a decade of new research

Benjamin P. Kear

Memoirs of Museum Victoria Vol 74 p. 17–28 (2016)



Cretaceous marine amniote fossils have been documented from Australia for more than 150 years, however, their global significance has only come to the fore in the last decade. This recognition is a product of accelerated research coupled with spectacular new discoveries from the Aptian–Albian epeiric sequences of the Eromanga Basin – especially the opal-bearing deposits of South Australia and vast lagerstätten exposures of central-northern Queensland. Novel fragmentary records have also surfaced in Cenomanian and Maastrichtian strata from Western Australia. The most notable advances include a proliferation of plesiosaurian taxa, as well as detailed characterization of the ‘last surviving’ ichthyosaurian Platypterygius, and some of the stratigraphically oldest protostegid sea turtles based on exceptionally preserved remains. Compositionally, the Australian assemblages provide a unique window into the otherwise poorly known Early Cretaceous marine amniote faunas of Gondwana. Their association with freezing high latitude palaeoenvironments is also extremely unusual, and evinces a climate change coincident diversity turnover incorporating the nascent radiation of lineages that went on to dominate later Mesozoic seas.


Kear, B.P., 2016. Cretaceous marine amniotes of Australia: perspectives on a decade of new research. Memoirs of Museum Victoria 74: 17-28.


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