Abstract

The vertebrate assemblage from the Early Cretaceous non-marine Xinlong Formation of the Napai Basin, in the south-western part of Guangxi Zhuang Autonomous Region (southern China), is reviewed. The assemblage includes chondrichthyans (at least six species of hybodont sharks including Hybodus, Thaiodus, Heteroptychodus and Acrorhizodus), actinopterygians (Halecomorphi and Ginglymodi), turtles (the adocid Shachemys and the carettochelyid Kizylkumemys), crocodilians (cf. Theriosuchus) and dinosaurs (the sauropods Fusuisaurus and Liubangosaurus, carcharodontosaurid and spinosaurid theropods, iguanodontians and a possible psittacosaurid). This assemblage shows many similarities to those from non-marine formations of the Khorat Group of north-eastern Thailand. It seems to be particularly close to that from the Khok Kruat Formation, considered as Aptian in age, as shown especially by sharks and turtles and by the presence of iguanodontians. An Aptian age is therefore proposed for the Xinlong Formation. A study of the stable oxygen and carbon isotope compositions of reptile apatite suggests that this part of South China experienced subtropical arid conditions during the deposition of the Xinlong Formation. In its composition, the vertebrate fauna from the Xinlong Formation seems to be more similar to coeval faunas from SE Asia than to assemblages from northern China (including the Jehol Biota). Although this may partly reflect different depositional and taphonomic environments (fluvial for the Xinlong Formation versus lacustrine for the Jehol Biota) it seems likely that, during Early Cretaceous time, southern China and SE Asia were part of a distinct zoogeographical province, different from that corresponding to northern China. This may be the result of both climatic differences (with relatively cool climates in northern China versus a subtropical climate in the south) and geographical barriers such as mountain chains.

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