Article: Sauropod dinosaurs from the Lower Cretaceous of eastern Asia: taxonomic and biogeographical implications
Paul M. Barrett, Yoshikazu Hasegawa, Makoto Manabe, Shinji Isaji and Hiroshige Matsuoka
Sauropod dinosaurs are poorly represented in the Lower Cretaceous of eastern Asia. Here, we describe a number of isolated sauropod teeth from the Kuwajima Formation (?Berriasian-?Hauterivian) of Shiramine, Japan. The mosaic of shared derived characters and symplesiomorphies displayed by the teeth indicate that they are referable to a basal member of the titanosauriform radiation. A taxonomic review of previously described sauropod specimens from eastern and south-eastern Asia reveals that a diversity of sauropods (including a titanosaurian, a basal titanosauriform and a ?euhelopodid, as well as several forms of indeterminate systematic position) was present in this region in the Early Cretaceous. This diversity conflicts with previous suggestions that eastern Asia was biogeographically isolated from the rest of Laurasia until the late Early Cretaceous and that the sauropod fauna was limited to the endemic East Asian clade Euhelopodidae. The presence of titanosauriform sauropods in the basal Cretaceous of Japan and Thailand indicate that the proposed faunal isolation of eastern Asia ended approximately 20 myr earlier than usually suggested.