Bojar, Csiki, and Grigorescu, 2010, Stable isotope dirstibution in Maastrichtian vertebrates and paleosols from the Hateg Basin, South Carpathians: Palaeogeography, Palaeoclimatology, Palaeoecology, v. 293, p. 329-342.
What’s it about?
Some late Cretaceous-aged (AKA Maastrichtian) rocks from Romania contain fossilized soils (paleosols), dinosaur bones and teeth, and dinosaur eggshells. The authors use geochemical analysis, specifically stable isotope analysis, from all of these materials to build a fairly complete picture of what the region was like at the time that those dinosaurs were alive. What they found was that the environment was relatively warm and dry, and that the dinosaurs didn’t appear to utilize different parts of the habitat, but instead lived side-by-side.
Why does it matter?
It’s hard to know what the world was like during the Cretaceous. This is made more difficult by the fact that there is nothing living today that is a satisfactory analog for dinosaurs. Geochemical methods are among the best ways that scientists can interpret ancient weather patterns and ecological interactions.
Why did I read this?
These are the exact methods I use in my own research. I was pleasantly surprised at the authors’ discussion of oxygen isotopes in body water, as this is directly relevant to some research I’m working on involving Cretaceous rocks from the high Arctic. I’ll be reading this paper again…