• Paleontological studies of Cretaceous vertebrate fossil beds in the Tataouine Basin (southern Tunisia)
  • Contessi, Michela <1985>


  • GEO/01 Paleontologia e paleoecologia


  • The ‘Continental Intercalaire’ deposits of the Tataouine basin of southern Tunisia preserve one of the most diverse Cretaceous vertebrate fauna from Africa. This research project focuses on a detailed revision of the stratigraphic distribution of mid-Cretaceous fossil beds in the Tataouine Basin and includes the description of four, newly discovered vertebrate tracksites. In the Tataouine region, macro- and microvertebrate remains are recovered from three stratigraphic intervals: the lower Douiret Formation (Barremian), the Chenini (rare) and Oum ed Diab members of the Aïn El Guettar Formation (Albian). A detailed, basin-scale revision of the stratigraphic occurrence of fossil-bearing strata indicates 1. lateral facies variability within the context of a low gradient, circalittoral to coastal-plain environment; 2. multiple and diachronous fossil beds which include elasmobranchs, actinopterygians, sarcopterygians, turtles, crocodyliforms, pterosaurs, and non-avian dinosaurs remains. Four vertebrate tracksites have been discovered in the study area: 1. the Middle Jurassic Beni Ghedir site which preserves approximately 130 tridactyl footprints distributed over an area of 200 square meters, representing the oldest evidence of a dinosaur fauna in Tunisia; 2. the late Albian Chenini tracksite, which includes poorly preserved crocodilian tracks and the dinosaur ichnospecies Apulosauripus federicianus; 3. the Cenomanian Ksar Ayaat locality, where footprints assigned to a pleurodiran turtle are exposed, and 4. the upper Cenomanian Jebel Boulouha site which presents almost 100 well-preserved tridactyl tracks referred to small-sized theropods, fossil bird tracks - ichnogenus Koreanaorins – and tracks referred to a mammalian trackmaker, representing the first report of fossil bird and mammal from the Cretaceous of continental Africa and Tunisia respectively. In addition, data collected from the Tunisian tracksites have been compared with coeval tracksites in Italy and Croatia, showing analogies in morphology and paleoenvironment of dinosaur ichnoassociations, supporting the already hypothesized subaerial connection between these areas during the mid-Cretaceous.


  • 2013-04-19


  • Doctoral Thesis
  • PeerReviewed


  • application/pdf



Contessi, Michela (2013) Paleontological studies of Cretaceous vertebrate fossil beds in the Tataouine Basin (southern Tunisia), [Dissertation thesis], Alma Mater Studiorum Università di Bologna. Dottorato di ricerca in Scienze della terra , 25 Ciclo. DOI 10.6092/unibo/amsdottorato/5240.