The Early Cretaceous of North-East Greenland: A crossroads of belemnite migration

Peter Alsen, Jörg Mutterlose

Publikation: Bidrag til tidsskriftArtikelForskningpeer review

27 Citationer (Scopus)


Recent field work in Lower Cretaceous successions of Traill Ø and Wollaston Forland, North-East Greenland, have resulted in c. 2350 belemnite guards collected bed-by-bed from the upper Ryazanian – Hauterivian. The most common belemnite genera observed, Acroteuthis, Pachyteuthis, and Cylindroteuthis are of boreal-arctic affinities and closely related to NW European and Siberian faunas. Other taxa, including Hibolithes (common), Pseudobelus (relatively common) and Duvalia (rare), show faunal links to both NW European and Mediterranean faunas. This paper describes and discusses these findings in their taxonomic, biostratigraphic, palaeobiogeographic, palaeoecologic and palaeoceanographic context. In particular, the occurrence of Pseudobelus which is common in the circum Mediterranean area, is remarkable since it is the first observation of this Tethyan genus in the entire Boreal Realm. The palaeoecological interpretation of these observations result in the recognition of four different palaeobiogeographic belemnite assemblages for the Boreal Realm: 1) North-East Greenland, 2) Spitsbergen, 3) NW Europe and 4) Siberia. In contrast to the other assemblages, the belemnite faunas of North-East Greenland consist of a) Boreal-Arctic elements, b) Boreal-European taxa, c) endemic belemnites of Tethyan ancestry, and d) Tethyan species. These findings make North-East Greenland part of an immigration route from the Tethyan Realm via the north Atlantic to the high Boreal. This allowed Tethyan species, which are otherwise unknown from the Boreal Realm, to reach North-East Greenland. The occurrence of the Tethyan genus Pseudobelus in North-East Greenland also supports the interpretation of this taxon as a hemipelagic dweller, capable of crossing major distances. The belemnite patterns further suggest the existence of a proto Gulf-stream, documenting a south-to-north flow of warm surface waters as far north as Greenland already in the earliest Cretaceous (Valanginian). This has substantial implications for the interpretation of Early Cretaceous climate and oceanic current systems, as well as for the palaeobiology of belemnites.
Sider (fra-til)168-182
Antal sider15
TidsskriftPalaeogeography, Palaeoclimatology, Palaeoecology
Udgave nummer1-2
StatusUdgivet - 1 sep. 2009
Udgivet eksterntJa


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