Refined age and geological context of two of Australia's most important Jurassic vertebrate taxa (Rhoetosaurus brownei and Siderops kehli), Queensland
Abstract Australia's Jurassic vertebrate fossil record remains extremely sparse with only two dinosaur taxa and two temnospondyl amphibians identified to date. Of these, the spectacular and extremely well-preserved giant amphibian, Siderops kehli , and the only known pre-Cretaceous sauropod in Australia, Rhoetosaurus brownei , are perhaps the most important. The age of both specimens, and the stratigraphic context of Rhoetosaurus brownei , are weakly constrained and imprecisely defined, limiting our understanding of their evolutionary relationships within a broader Gondwanan context. To clarify and contextualise the evolutionary relationships and ages of these two iconic Jurassic taxa, we used U Pb detrital zircon geochronology to date the sandstone matrix from around the bones of the historic museum specimens. The robust maximum depositional age for Siderops was calculated at 176.6 Ma ± 2 Ma, indicating that it is no older than late Toarcian, which refines existing biostratigraphic estimates. The Rhoetosaurus maximum depositional age determined is 162.6 ± 1.1 Ma, no older than early Oxfordian, demonstrating that the fossils are younger than expected, and definitely recovered from the Walloon Coal Measures.