Oradea, Romania
Oradea, Romania

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Venczel M.,Tarii Crisurilor Museum | Hir J.,Municipal Museum Paszto
Geobios | Year: 2015

We report herein an early middle Miocene (MN 6) assemblage of lissamphibians and squamate reptiles from the Pannonian region, Northern Hungary. The localities of Litke 1 and 2, of about 15.2-14.8 Ma, have produced at least 18 different taxa, originate mainly from terrestrial habitats. The faunal composition with a number of thermophilous taxa, including agamids, varanids and erycine boids, indicates moderately warm climatic conditions with relatively low level of mean annual precipitations. Common elements with those known from the late early Miocene to early/middle Miocene transition of Central and Western Paratethys suggest close biogeographic relationships between the western and eastern parts of the European continent. However, typical groups of the "Mid-Miocene Climatic Optimum" are unknown from Litke localities, suggesting altered palaeoclimatic and palaeoenvironmental conditions for the eastern region of Central Paratethys at that time. © 2015 Elsevier Masson SAS.


Cernansky A.,Co Menius University in Bratislava | Venczel M.,Ta;rii Crisurilor Museum
Neues Jahrbuch fur Geologie und Palaontologie - Abhandlungen | Year: 2011

The paper deals with the first occurrence of amphisbaenid lizard from the Early Miocene (Eggenburgian, MN 3a) locality Merkur-North (Northwest Bohemia). Amhisbaenids include about 200 species located in six families and are distributed across Africa, South America, Caribbean Islands, North America, Europe and the Middle East. However, many aspects of their evolutionary biology are still poorly understood. The material, which consists of one isolated left dentary Ah-771 SGDB, is determined as Blanus sp. However, the posterior part of the dentary differs completely from all the specimens previously described, due to its extremely short and low coronoid process. In Blanus (both fossil and recent specimens), the coronoid process is distinctly longer and slanting posterodorsally and the dorsoposterior limit of the coronoid process is always higher than the apices of the largest mandibular teeth. Consequently, this specimen may represent a new species, but the material is too fragmentary to demonstrate it completely. In any case, the new materarial extends our knowledge about a morphology, evolution and geographic range of this group. ©2011 Schweizerbart'sche Verlagsbuchhandlung, Stuttgart, Germany.


Szentesi Z.,Eötvös Loránd University | Venczel M.,Tarii Crisurilor Museum
Neues Jahrbuch fur Geologie und Palaontologie - Abhandlungen | Year: 2010

A new anuran genus and species is described based on isolated ilia and tibio-fibulae from the Iharkút locality (Late Cretaceous, Santonian), Hungary, in the Csehbánya Formation. The distinctive ilium exhibits at least two autapomorphies: (1) an iliac crest that is heavily built, extremely high, and sculptured laterally by longitudinal grooves and bony ridges that anastomose posteriorly and (2) an interiliac tubercle that is huge and medially bears an extensive sutural surface developed at the level of the preacetabular region. Details of the iliac crest and ilioischiadic junction argue for the Hungarian frog being a member of the Neobatrachia and, possibly, closely related to ranoids. Based on ilial features, the Hungarian frog is interpreted as an aquatic form that descended from a more terrestrial, jumping ancestor. Assuming its higher level affinities are correct, the new Hungarian frog documents a significant temporal extension for neobatrachians in Europe from the late Palaeocene back into the Santonian. © 2010 Schweizerbart'sche Verlagsbuchhandlung, Stuttgart, Germany.


Venczel M.,Tarii Crisurilor Museum | Szentesi Z.,Eotvos University and ELTE Research GRomaniap for Paleontology
Hantkeniana | Year: 2012

The Iharkút lissamphibian assamblage consists of a mixture of autochthonous Laurasian taxa [albanerpetontid allocaudatans, discoglossid {Bakonybatrachus) and pelobatid anurans] along with those of Gondwanan origin (the neobatrachian Hungarygarobatrachus). Functional anatomical interpretations of the preserved iliac structures and taphonomical observations were used in the reconstruction of the paleoecological conditions. Different paleoecological circumstances of these gRomaniaps are indicated by the attachment surfaces of locomotory muscles in the preserved iliac bones of Bakonybatrachus and Hungarygarobatrachus and compared to recent representatives of discoglossid and ranid frogs (i.e. Discoglossus and Rana). Large insertion surfaces for m. gluteus maximus and for the m. iliacus externus pars externa indicates that Bakonybatrachus had good jumping and swimming abilities pointing to a periaquatic life-style, whereas the large m. iliacus externus and m. ilifibularis-iliofemoralis combined with a huge interiliac tubercle, suggest that Hungarygarobatrachus was a strong jumper, swimmer or both.


Maddin H.C.,University of Calgary | Venczel M.,Tarii Crisurilor Museum | Gardner J.D.,Royal Tyrrell Museum of Palaeontology | Rage J.-C.,CNRS Center for Research on Palaeobiodiversity and Palaeoenvironments
Journal of Vertebrate Paleontology | Year: 2013

The Albanerpetontidae, small salamander-like tetrapods from the Middle Jurassic-Neogene of Laurasia and northern Africa, are widely considered to be lissamphibians; however, relationships among major lissamphibian clades are unresolved. A recently identified, isolated, and three-dimensionally preserved neurocranium (early Pliocene, Hungary) referred to Albanerpeton pannonicum is described, incorporating information gained from the application of micro-computed tomography. It is revealed that the neurocranium is a robust, box-like structure composed of the coossification of the parasphenoid, otic capsules, and occipital elements. The otic capsule endocast reveals the morphology of the endosseous labyrinth, complete with well-defined endosseous semicircular canals and a modestly developed ventral endosseous auditory region; however, details of the individual auditory organs are not discernable from the endocast. Features of the neurocranium and endosseous labyrinth are consistent with the hypothesis that A. pannonicum, and albanerpetontids in general, were somewhat fossorial. The neurocranium and endosseous labyrinth exhibit a mosaic of anuran, urodele, and apodan traits, thus precluding refinement of the phylogenetic position of albanerpetontids. In general, the neurocranium and endosseous labyrinth appear most similar to urodeles, and similarities with apodans and anurans may be due to convergent evolution resulting from similar habits and responses to inner ear stimulation. This new neurocranium represents the best-known specimen of its kind for albanerpetontids, and the data presented here combined with future comparative studies will contribute to a better understanding of the biology and evolution of this group. © 2013 by the Society of Vertebrate Paleontology.


Venczel M.,Tarii Crisurilor Museum | Codrea V.A.,Babes - Bolyai University
Journal of Systematic Palaeontology | Year: 2016

A new lizard genus and species is described based on a three-dimensionally preserved partial skull and associated lower jaws from the Pui Islaz locality (Late Cretaceous, early Maastrichtian) in the Hąteg Basin, western Romania. Barbatteius vremiri gen. et sp. nov. is diagnosed by a unique combination of symplesiomorphies and synapomorphies. A nested set of synapomorphies support assigning Barbatteius to Teiidae as the first unambiguous Late Cretaceous record of this family from Laurasia. Barbatteius differs from other teiids by having more extensive osteodermal sculpture on the skull roof and suspensorium, and by a pentagonal occipital osteoscute exhibiting more or less parallel lateral margins. Barbatteius is a large-bodied lizard, estimated to be up to 800 mm in total length. It has weakly heterodont dentition, but without enlarged posterior crushing teeth, suggesting that it fed on arthropods, small vertebrates and plants. The mix of taxa with affinities to Euramerica (paramacellodid and borioteiioid lizards) and Gondwana (madtsoiid snakes and the teiid Barbatteius) currently known for the Maastrichtian squamate assemblage from Hąteg Basin supports the growing realization that 'Hateg Island' has a complex palaeobiogeographical history. © 2015 The Trustees of the Natural History Museum, London.


Szentesi Z.,Eötvös Loránd University | Gardner J.D.,Royal Tyrrell Museum of Palaeontology | Venczel M.,Tarii Crisurilor Museum
Canadian Journal of Earth Sciences | Year: 2013

Since its discovery in 2000, the Iharkút fossil locality in the Upper Cretaceous (Santonian) Csehbánya Formation of western Hungary has yielded a taxonomically diverse assemblage of terrestrial and freshwater vertebrates that continue to provide insights into the diversity, paleobiogeography, and paleoecology of Late Cretaceous vertebrates in Europe. Albanerpetontidae, an extinct group of superficially salamander-like amphibians that were widespread across Laurasia during the latter part of the Mesozoic, are represented at Iharkút by 16 fragmentary jaws. Here we describe and figure these specimens as Albanerpetontidae genus and species indeterminate. Based on the age of the Iharkút locality, several premaxillary features, the known distribution (late Early Cretaceous - late Pliocene) of the type genus Albanerpeton, and an unusually large dentary specimen, we suggest that the Iharkút albanerpetontid may pertain to a previously unrecognized species of Albanerpeton, but verification of that must await the recovery of more diagnostically informative specimens, such as frontals and more nearly complete premaxillae. The Iharkút lissamphibian assemblage contains a mixture of taxa with Laurasian (the albanerpetontid and a discoglossid anuran) and Gondwanan (a neobatrachian anuran) affinities. Intriguing higher level differences are evident among Late Cretaceous Laurasian assemblages; for example, urodeles are scarce or absent (as at Iharkút) in Europe, whereas albanerpetontids are scarce in Middle Asia.


Venczel M.,Tarii Crisurilor Museum | Codrea V.,Babes - Bolyai University | Farcas C.,Babes - Bolyai University
Journal of Systematic Palaeontology | Year: 2013

The Eocene-Oligocene transition (Mammal Palaeogene zones, MP 20-21) corresponds in Europe to a major faunal turnover, called the 'Grande Coupure' (= Great Break). This event, produced by worldwide cooling and regression of seas, reshaped the faunal composition of Europe and resulted in the extinction of numerous ectothermic taxa. We describe a new palaeobatrachid frog from the early Oligocene of Suceag 1 (Rupelian: MP 23-24), Romania, and assign it to Albionbatrachus, a genus previously known only from the British Isles and thought to have gone extinct during the late Eocene (MP 20). Albionbatrachus oligocenicus sp. nov. is established on a distinctive frontoparietal bone, which differs from A. wightensis in a few details, including the morphology of the frontoparietal table and paraoccipital processes. The peculiar sculpture on the frontoparietal bears dense dermal vascularization, which might reflect adaptation to oxygen depleted environments. Two autapomorphic characters of the angulosplenial and ilium in A. oligocenicus sp. nov. likely reflect a shift in, respectively, feeding and locomotory behaviours. A phylogenetic analysis of the primarily Gondwanan group Xenoanura identifies Albionbatrachus as the sister taxon of Palaeobatrachus, and places these two genera as the sister group of a separate Pipidae + Avitabatrachus clade. The presence of A. oligocenicus sp. nov. in the Oligocene of Central Europe indicates that Albionbatrachus survived the 'Grande Coupure' and necessitates a revised palaeobiogeographical scenario for the genus. We propose that the geographical distribution of Albionbatrachus before the 'Grande Coupure' was wider, extending eastwards into Central Europe, and that the 'Grande Coupure' resulted in the extinction of Albionbatrachus only in the western part of its range. The final extinction of Albionbatrachus might have been associated with Oligocene climatic deterioration and with shrinking of specific aquatic habitats. © 2013 Natural History Museum.


Venczel M.,Tarii Crisurilor Museum | Vasile T.,University of Bucharest | Csiki-Sava Z.,University of Bucharest
Cretaceous Research | Year: 2015

Here we report on the taphonomy and paleoecological implications of the first record of a small madtsoiid snake (Nidophis insularis) closely associated with a megaloolithid dinosaur egg nest. Taphonomic and sedimentologic evidence suggest that the snake was buried autochthonously within or nearby the egg nest, with at least partially articulated skeleton. Count of growth rings on the vertebral zygapophyses indicates that the holotype of Nidophis belonged to an adult individual approaching the limit of its maximum body size of about 1m length. The presence of layers of arrested growth on the zygapophyses, together with other independent data (e.g., paleomagnetic data, sedimentology, paleosol development stage, stable isotope geochemistry) indicates that Nidophis lived under a semi-arid, seasonally variable subtropical climate, having alternative periods of active feeding. The trunk vertebrae with relatively low neural spines and without prezygapophyseal accessory processes indicate a relatively heavy-bodied, slowly-moving animal, one that probably had a semifossorial habit and was an active forager, but definitively not a dinosaur nest raider as suggested for certain large madtsoiid snakes (the Indian Sanajeh). Potential prey items, available around the dinosaur nesting area, probably ranged from small squamate eggs to various small vertebrates. Finally, one anterior trunk vertebra of the holotype displays distinct bite marks left by a small-sized and pointed-toothed predator, most probably a crocodyliform or a theropod, thus documenting that madtsoiids were also preyed upon. © 2015 Elsevier Ltd.


Vasile S.,University of Bucharest | Csiki-Sava Z.,University of Bucharest | Venczel M.,Tarii Crisurilor Museum
Journal of Vertebrate Paleontology | Year: 2013

Madtsoiidae are a group of archaic snakes, widely distributed in the Upper Cretaceous of Gondwanan landmasses (South America, Madagascar, India, Africa), but otherwise reported outside Gondwana based only on scarce material from a few southern European localities. Here, we describe associated snake remains from uppermost Cretaceous (Maastrichtian) beds of the Haţeg Basin, Romania, as a new small-madtsoiid taxon, Nidophis insularis, gen. et sp. nov. Nidophis, represented by a large number of well-preserved vertebrae and ribs that apparently belonged to one individual, is one of the best-known Cretaceous madtsoiids, and the most completely documented member of the family from Europe. Phylogenetic analyses place the new taxon within a moderately supported Madtsoiidae, closely related to Herensugea from the Upper Cretaceous of Spain. The two European taxa, together with other small madtsoiids, are recovered as the sister taxon to a second madtsoiid clade including large-to-gigantic forms such as Madtsoia, Wonambi, and Yurlunggur. The presence of these small madtsoiids, together with that of Menarana, in the uppermost Cretaceous of Europe, suggests that early widespread distribution of madtsoiids, extending over the southern part of Europe, instead of late northward immigration from Gondwanan landmasses, as proposed previously, might account for the paleobiogeographic distribution of Cretaceous Madstoiidae. SUPPLEMENTAL DATA - Supplemental materials are available for this article for free at www.tandfonline.com/UJVP © 2013 by the Society of Vertebrate Paleontology.

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