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Palaeontology Seminar


Tracking nautiloid migrational seaways: using pelagic faunas as a complementary tool for palaeogeographic reconstruction


Dr. Kathleen Histon, Università degli Studi di Modena e Reggio Emilia


Thursday 24th May
Neil Chalmers Seminar Room, DC2, 16:00



Documentation of the distribution and biodiversity of environmentally sensitive groups is an important element in palaeogeographical reconstruction. Establishment of the precise position, width and timing of open seaways is a pivotal factor in unravelling complex regional geodynamic histories. As nautiloid cephalopods are particularly sensitive to distance and water depth separating landmasses and to fluctuations in sea level they can be considered reliable tools for tracing migrational pathways of pelagic faunas during certain intervals. This complementary dataset can be utilized to confirm models regarding palaeocontinent/microterrane position based on the traditional use of distribution of benthonic faunas.


Detailed field studies on the cephalopod limestone biofacies from the almost complete biostratigraphically well constrained Silurian successions in the Carnic Alps (Austria) over the past decade have provided significant data regarding the relationship between sea-level change and faunal events for this middle palaeolatitude North Gondwanan microterrane during the Silurian. The response of various faunal groups to the eustatic changes identified on a local scale has been  compared and related to similar studies in progress from other North Gondwana terranes such as Sardinia and Bohemia and on a global scale with some sectors of Avalonia (the British Isles) and Laurentia (North America). The findings may also have critical relevance within the context of identification of nautiloid cephalopod bioevents and their relation to the dynamics of the global carbon cycle. Detailed studies in this respect for major groups such as nautiloids are lacking to date for the Silurian.




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