THE CRETACEOUS BIOGEOGRAPHY OF THE EASTERN MEDITERRANEAN WITH A DESCRIPTION OF A NEW BASAL MOSASAUROID FROM 'EIN YABRUD, ISRAEL
The Cenomanian fauna of 'Ein Yabrud, Israel, contains a suite of marine lepidosaurs, including a new, basal mosasauroid, similar to those from Cretaceous shallow marine carbonate settings in Italy and Croatia. Plate tectonic models indicate Early Cretaceous rifting of continental crust from the northeastern portion of Africa with subsequent northward drifting and incorporation into southern Europe. Eustatic curves indicate generally lower sea levels prior to the middle Albian than later in the Cretaceous. Therefore, terrestrial vertebrates of Early Cretaceous age in the eastern Mediterranean are likely of Gondwana origin. Southern European Early Cretaceous dinosaur bones, including the skeleton of the maniraptoran Scipionyx, footprints, and lepidosaurs were implaced as biogeographic voyagers on beached Viking funeral ships, derived initially from Africa and accreted onto Europe. The inundated Apulian Platform and related carbonate shelves supported a tropical marine lepidosaur fauna, including aigialosaurs, coniasaurs, and the earliest documented invasion of the sea by snakes.