Palaeontology of SW Germany 2.2: Keuper

Previously, I gave a quick overview of the Buntsandstein and Muschelkalk in SW Germany, now we finally make it into the Keuper. Archosaur time! Luckily, SW Germany went dry again after the Middle Triassic, and the lowermost part of the Keuper, the Lettenkeuper (that’s the term often used in German publications from the late 1800s) or Untere Keuper was deposited in a shallow basin with occasional marine ingressions. “marine ingressions” is geology-geekish, and means that sometimes, the sea flooded the basin, so that typical shallow-sea sediments and fossils can be found.

Overall, the sediments of the Lettenkeuper are greyish and green clays, sandstone and dolomites. The profile typically looks like this.

Above it the Middle Keuper was deposited, a merry mix of sediments including massive evaporites (salt stemming from an oversaturated sea). Because of them the Middle Keuper is sometimes called the Gipskeuper (=gypsum Keuper). But I won’t bore you with the complicated mess of formations that make up the Middle Keuper – let me just note that at the top, in the Löwenstein Formation, there is the Stubensandstein, a Norian sandstone from which Proganochelys is know, the second-oldest turtle known! And there is – hurray! – finally a dinosaur to list: Sellosaurus gracilis, a “prosauropod”, in fact plateosaurid dinosaur!


Here’s the old SMNS 12667 mount in position as found, figure from Hungerbühler (1998). I used this figure before in a post of a very public disagreement between scientists, and I wish that mount was still there to study.

But hey, it gets even better! About ten years ago Adam Yates got hold of the critter (Yates 2003), studied it extensively, and lo and behold found it is little different from another “prosauropod” from Southern Germany – and that it should better be called Plateosaurus gracilis! Finally, I made it to my favourite genus here!

But hey, this is the WRONG Plateosaurus! The smaller, older, far less well known one. Let’s move on into the Upper Keuper, follow the Löwenstein Formation, which extends to the Upper Keuper, and switch over to the Trossingen Formation. Now we are finally in Plateosaurus engelhardti times, the species to which my beloved GPIT/RE/7288 belong. I haven’t figured it enough here on dinosaurpalaeo, so here are some pictures, both of the real and the digital skeleton…….

threetoed prints from Plateo








Plateosaurus engelhardti, digital skeleton, in egglaying pose.

Plateosaurus engelhardti, digital skeleton, in egglaying pose.

‘Nuff! Next time, we move on into the Jurassic, and then it is time for me to finally show you all the beautiful fossils I photographed during my mad 8 day cruise through three countries with Eric Snively.


Hungerbühler, A. 1998. Taphonomy of the prosauropod dinosaur Sellosaurus, and its
implications for carnivore faunas and feeding habits in the Late Triassic. Palaeogeography, Palaeoclimatology, Palaeoecology 143:1–29

Yates, A.M. 2003. The specis taxonomy of the sauropodomorph dinosaurs from the Loewenstein Formation (Norian, Late Triassic) of Germany. Palaeontology 46(2):317-337

About Heinrich Mallison

I'm a dinosaur biomech guy
This entry was posted in "Prosauropoda", Dinopics, Dinosauria, Plateosaurus, Sauropodomorpha. Bookmark the permalink.

2 Responses to Palaeontology of SW Germany 2.2: Keuper

  1. No need to put prosauropod in quotes. Both Sellosaurus and Plateosaurus are actual members of Prosauropoda (Plateosaurus engelhardti <- Saltasaurus loricatus).

  2. Pingback: Artikelempfehlung | Urzeit-Blog

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.