Late Cretaceous siliceous sponges from the Middle Vistula River Valley (Central Poland) and their palaeoecological significance

Ewa Świerczewska-Gładysz


Późnokredowe gąbki krzemionkowe z doliny środkowej Wisły (Polska centralna) i ich znaczenie paleoekologiczne

Siliceous sponges are extremely abundant in the Upper Campanian-Maastrichtian opokas and marls of the Middle Vistula River Valley, situated in the western edge of the Lublin Basin, part of the Cretaceous German-Polish Basin. This is also the only one area in Poland where strata bearing the Late Maastrichtian sponges are exposed. The presented paper is a taxonomic revision of sponges collected from this region. Based both on existing and newly collected material comprising ca. 1750 specimens, 51 species have been described, including 18 belonging to the Hexactinosida, 15 - to the Lychniscosida and 18 - to Demospongiae. Among them, 28 have not been so far described from Poland. One new genus Varioporospongia, assigned to the family Ventriculitidae Smith and two new species Varioporospongia dariae sp. n. and Aphrocallistes calciformis sp. n. have been described. Comparison of sponge fauna from the area of Podilia, Crimea, Chernihov, and Donbas regions, as well as literature data point to the occurrence of species common in the analysed area and to the basins of Eastern and Western Europe. This in turn indicates good connections between particular basins of the European epicontinental sea during the Campanian-Maastrichtian. Analysis of the taxonomic composition of the Middle Vistula assem- blage suggests that the occurring sponge fauna is transitional between the faunas of Eastern and Western Europe, what may be linked with the central location of the Lublin Basin in the European epicontinental sea. The gradual upward decrease of taxonomic diversity of the Hexactinosida and Lychniscosida in the studied succession points to gradual basin shallowing, what is consistent with the global regressive trend by the end of the Cretaceous. The domination of the Hexactinellida over the lithistids in terms of diversity and abundance in the entire section allows us to estimate the maximum depth of the Late Campanian basin as 200-250 m and to constrain the minimum depth during the latest Maastrichtian as about 100 m.

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