Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences | VOL. 119

Low dinosaur biodiversity in central China 2 million years prior to the end-Cretaceous mass extinction

Publication Date Sep 19, 2022


Whether or not nonavian dinosaur biodiversity declined prior to the end-Cretaceous mass extinction remains controversial as the result of sampling biases in the fossil record, differences in the analytical approaches used, and the rarity of high-precision geochronological dating of dinosaur fossils. Using magnetostratigraphy, cyclostratigraphy, and biostratigraphy, we establish a high-resolution geochronological framework for the fossil-rich Late Cretaceous sedimentary sequence in the Shanyang Basin of central China. We have found only three dinosaurian eggshell taxa ( Macroolithus yaotunensis , Elongatoolithus elongatus , and Stromatoolithus pinglingensis ) representing two clades (Oviraptoridae and Hadrosauridae) in sediments deposited between ∼68.2 and ∼66.4 million y ago, indicating sustained low dinosaur biodiversity, and that assessment is consistent with the known skeletal remains in the Shanyang and surrounding basins of central China. Along with the dinosaur eggshell records from eastern and southern China, we find a decline in dinosaur biodiversity from the Campanian to the Maastrichtian. Our results support a long-term decline in global dinosaur biodiversity prior to 66 million y ago, which likely set the stage for the end-Cretaceous nonavian dinosaur mass extinction.


Low Biodiversity Nonavian Dinosaur Mass Extinction Central China Fossil Record Southern China Basin Of China Dating Of Fossils Analytical Approaches Biodiversity Declined

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No potential conflict of interest was reported by the authors. The conception and design of the study, acquisition of data, analysis and interpretatio...

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