Diversity of theropod ootaxa and its implications for the latest Cretaceous dinosaur turnover in southwestern Europe
Abstract The scarcity of diagnostic skeletal elements in the latest Cretaceous theropod record of the Ibero-Armorican domain (southwestern Europe) prevents to perform accurate phylogenetic, paleobiogeographic, and diversity studies. In contrast, eggs and eggshells of theropod dinosaurs are relatively abundant and well known in this region from which several ootaxa have been described. Here, we describe the first Late Maastrichtian theropod ootaxon ( Prismatoolithus trempii oosp. nov.) from SW Europe and demonstrate that oological record can be used as a proxy for assessing diversity of egg-producers and may help to complement their scarce bone record. The performed analyses indicate that the theropod taxa and ootaxa reach their diversity maxima during the Late Campanian and start to decrease near the Campanian–Maastrichtian boundary at both global and regional scales. The oological diversity of theropods in the Ibero-Armorican domain is consistent with the theropod diversity identified at high taxonomic level. Two distinct assemblages of theropod ootaxa can be recognized in the latest Cretaceous of the Ibero-Armorican domain. Their temporal transition can be correlated with other dinosaur faunal changes recorded in the region. This faunal turnover took place around the Early–Late Maastrichtian boundary, involving ornithopods, sauropods, ankylosaurs and, according to the present results, theropods as well.