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System Series Stage Age (Ma)
Paleogene Paleocene Danian younger
Cretaceous Upper Maastrichtian 65.5–70.6
Campanian 70.6–83.5
Santonian 83.5–85.8
Coniacian 85.8–89.3
Turonian 89.3–93.5
Cenomanian 93.5–99.6
Lower Albian 99.6–112.0
Aptian 112.0–125.0
Barremian 125.0–130.0
Hauterivian 130.0–136.4
Valanginian 136.4–140.2
Berriasian 140.2–145.5
Jurassic Upper Tithonian older
Subdivision of the Cretaceous system according to the IUGS, as of July 2009.

The Aptian is an age in the geologic timescale or a stage in the stratigraphic column. It is a subdivision of the Early or Lower Cretaceous epoch or series and encompasses the time from 125.0 ± 1.0 Ma to 112.0 ± 1.0 Ma (million years ago), approximately. The Aptian succeeds the Barremian and precedes the Albian, all part of the Lower/Early Cretaceous.[1]

The Aptian partly overlaps the upper part of the regionally used (in western Europe) stage Urgonian.


Stratigraphic definitions

The Aptian was named after the small city of Apt in the Provence region of France. The original type locality is in the vicinity of Apt. The Aptian was introduced in scientific literature by French palaeontologist Alcide d'Orbigny in 1840.

The base of the Aptian stage is laid at magnetic anomaly M0r. A global reference profile for the base (a GSSP) had in 2009 not yet been appointed. The top of the Aptian (the base of the Albian) is at the first appearance of coccolithophore species Praediscosphaera columnata in the stratigraphic record.



In the Tethys domain, the Aptian contains eight ammonite biozones:

  • zone of Hypacanthoplites jacobi
  • zone of Nolaniceras nolani
  • zone of Parahoplites melchioris
  • zone of Epicheloniceras subnodosocostatum
  • zone of Duffrenoyia furcata
  • zone of Deshayesites deshayesi
  • zone of Deshayesites weissi
  • zone of Deshayesites oglanlensis

Sometimes the Aptian is subdivided in three substages or subages: Bedoulian (early or lower), Gargasian (middle) and Clansayesian (late or upper).

Lithostratigraphic units

Antlers Formation, Cedar Mountain Formation, Cloverly Formation, Elrhaz Formation, Jiufotang Formation, Little Atherfield, Mazong Shan, Potomac Formation, Santana Formation, Twin Mountains Formation, Xinminbao Group, Yixian Formation



  • Lower
    • Eotetragonites
    • Pseudosaynella
    • Roloboceras
    • Helicancylus
    • Procheloniceras
    • Prodeshayesites
    • Shastoceras
    • Ammonitoceras
    • Australiceras
    • Cheloniceras
    • Cicatrites
    • Colombiceras
    • Dufrenoya
    • Melchiorites
    • Parahoplites
Tropaeum imperator
  • Upper
    • Hypacanthoplites
    • Sinzovia
    • Trochleiceras
    • Mathoceratites
    • Metahamites
    • Neosilesites
    • Protanisoceras
    • Ammonoceratites
    • Beudanticeras
    • Gyaloceras
    • Hulenites
    • Knemiceras
    • Uhligella
    • Acanthohoplites
    • Acanthoplites
    • Argonauticeras
    • Burckhardites
    • Cloioceras
    • Diadochoceras
    • Diodochoceras
    • Eodouvilleiceras
    • Epancyloceras
    • Epicheloniceras
    • Gargasiceras
    • Jauberticeras
    • Kazanskyella
    • Mathoceras
    • Megatyloceras
    • Miyakoceras
    • Nodosohoplites
    • Nolaniceras
    • Protacanthoplites
    • Somalites
    • Theganoceras
    • Tropaeum
    • Gabbioceras
    • Tetragonites
    • Desmoceras
    • Hamites




  • Upper
    • Zhuralevia


  • Upper
    • Euphylloceras


  • Upper
    • Adygeya
    • Naefia


Ankylosauria of the Aptian
Taxa Presence Location Description Images
  • Cedarpelta bilbeyhallorum
Cedar Mountain Formation, Utah, USA
  • Gobisaurus domoculus
Ulansuhai Formation, Inner Mongolia, China
  • Liaoningosaurus paradoxus
Yixian Formation, Liaoning, China Nodosaurid with ventral armor plating
  • Minmi paravertebra
Bungil Formation, Queensland, Australia Small (1 meter long) primitive ankylosaur
  • Sauropelta edwardsorum
Aptian to Albian Cloverly Formation, Wyoming, Montana, Utah, USA A medium-sized nodosaurid, measuring about 5 meters (16.5 ft) long, Sauropelta had a distinctively long tail which made up about half of its body length. Its neck and back were protected by an extensive bony body armor including characteristically large spines
  • Shamosaurus scutatus
Mongolia Ankylosaurid



Ceratopsia of the Aptian
Taxa Presence Location Description Images
  • Archaeoceratops oshimai
Mazong Shan, Gansu, China A basal neoceratopsian, appears to have been bipedal and quite small (about 1 meter long) with a comparatively large head. Unlike many later ceratopsians it doesn't have any horns and has only a small bony frill projecting from the back of its head.
  • Auroraceratops rugosus
Xinminbao Group, Gansu, China Basal neoceratopsian
  • Psittacosaurus meileyingensis
  • Psittacosaurus mongoliensis
China, Mongolia, Russia Psittacosaurid Ceratopsian
  • Serendipaceratops arthurcclarkei
Victoria, Australia 2 meters long early ceratopsian


Choristoderans of the Aptian
Taxa Presence Description Images


  1. Hyphalosaurus lingyuanensis
  2. Hyphalosaurus baitaigouensis


  1. Monjurosuchus splendens




Mammals of the Hauterivian
Taxa Presence Location Description Images
several species from Hauterivian to Albian Spain, Mongolia
Yixian Formation, Liaoning, China A long-tailed, nocturnal tetrapod (with prensile fingers and toes) which hunted insects, its food, during the night
Yixian Formation, Liaoning, China The largest mammal known from the Cretaceous period of the Mesozoic, and the one for which there is the best evidence that it fed on dinosaurs.
Yixian Formation, Hebei, China A small mammal, barely 13 centimetres (5 inches) long. It was lightly-built and fed on insects, worms and other invertebrates, probably hunting at night. Like most early mammals, Yanoconodon had short, sprawling legs and claws that were most likely used for burrowing underground or digging


Ornithopoda of the Aptian
Taxa Presence Location Description Images
  • Atlascopcosaurus loadsi
Aptian/Albian Dinosaur Cove, Victoria, Australia 2-3 meters long hypsilophodont
  • Changchunsaurus parvus
Quantou Formation, Jilin, China As a small basal ornithopod, Changchunsaurus would have been a swift bipedal herbivore, feeding close to the ground.
  • Dollodon bampingi
Barremian-?Aptian Bernissart, Belgium; ?England; ?Germany A lightly constructed iguanodont, about 6 meters long (20 ft), estimated to weigh about 1 ton
  • Equijubus normani
Mazong Shan, Gansu, China Primitive hadrosaur or iguanodont
  • Iguanodon bernissartensis
Asia, Europe, North America Worldwide distributed, type genus of the Iguanodontia. 10 meters long
  • Lurdusaurus arenatus
Niger 9 meters long heavily built Iguanodont
  • Mantellisaurus atherfieldensis
Atherfield, England, UK formerly known as Iguanodon atherfieldensis
  • Ouranosaurus nigeriensis
Echkar Formation, Niger 7 meters long hadrosauroid, possibly with a sail on the back
  • Planicoxa venenica
  • Planicoxa depressa
Cedar Mountain Formation, Utah; Lakota Formation, South Dakota, USA A genus of advanced iguanodont
  • Qantassaurus intrepidus
Victoria, Australia 1.8 meter long hypsilophodontid
  • Siluosaurus zhanggiani
Xinminbao Group, Gansu, China A hypsilophodontid or other basal ornithopod, Siluosaurus would have been a bipedal herbivore.
  • Tenontosaurus tilletti
  • Tenontosaurus dossi
Cloverly Formation, Wyoming and Montana, Antlers Formation, Oklahoma, Twin Mountains Formation, Texas, USA 8 meters long early iguanodont
  • Theiophytalia kerri
Aptian to Albian Purgatoire Formation, Colorado, USA An iguanodont described as intermediate in derivation between Camptosaurus and Iguanodon
  • Zephyrosaurus schaffi
Cloverly Formation, Montana, USA Hypsilophodont


Plesiosaurs of the Aptian
Taxa Presence Location Description Images
  • Brachauchenius lucasi
Kansas, USA; Colombia A pliosaur that grew to around 10 meters in length, it represents the last known occurrence of a pliosaur in North America.
  • Callawayasaurus colombiensis
Paja Formation, Colombia 8 meters long elasmosaurid
  • Kronosaurus boyacensis
Aptian to Albian Boyaca, Colombia Among the largest pliosaurs, body-length estimates put the total length of Kronosaurus at 9–10 meters
  • Umoonasaurus demoscyllus
Australia Relatively small cryptocleidid, around 2.5 m long, identified by the three crest-ridges on its skull.



Sauropods of the Aptian
Taxa Presence Location Description Images
  • Amazonsaurus maranhensis
Itapecuru Formation, Maranhão, Brazil A genus of 12 meters long diplodocoid.
The size of Sauroposeidon compared to a human.
  • Astrodon johnstoni
Arundel Formation, Maryland, USA A large titanosaur, adults are estimated to have been more than 9m high and 15m to 18m long.
  • Fusuisaurus zhaoi
Napai Formation, Guangxi, China Probably a basal titanosaur, known by fragmentary postcranial remains
  • Jobaria tiguidensis
Aptian or Albian Sahara Desert Seems to be a very primitive sauropod. Unlike other Cretaceous sauropods, Jobaria had spoon-shaped teeth.
  • Karongasaurus gittelmani
Malawi Titanosaurid which fossils consist solely of parts of a lower mandible and a few teeth
  • Ligabuesaurus leanza
Argentina A basal titanosaurid
  • Malawisaurus dixeyi
Malawi One of the few titanosaurs for which skull material has been found
  • Nigersaurus taqueti
Elrhaz Formation, Niger Diplodocoid dinosaur, one of the most common genera found in the rich fossil vertebrate fauna of the Elrhaz Formation
  • Paluxysaurus jonesi
Twin Mountains Formation, Texas, USA A basal titanosauriform
  • Sauroposeidon proteles
Antlers Formation, Oklahoma, USA The last known giant brachiosaurid; extrapolations indicate that the head of Sauroposeidon could reach 17 m in height, making it the tallest known dinosaur. With an estimated length of 30 m and a mass of 36–40 MT it also ranks among the longest and heaviest.
  • Tangvayosaurus hoffeti
Grès Supérior Formation, Laos A basal titanosaur, known from the remains of two or three individuals.
  • Venenosaurus dicrocei
Cedar Mountain Formation, Utah, USA A titanosaur, known from an incomplete skeleton of an adult and a juvenile


Stegosauria of the Aptian
Taxa Presence Location Description Images
  • Wuerhosaurus homheni
  • Wuerhosaurus ordosensis
Xinjiang, Inner Mongolia, China 7 meters long stegosaurid

Non Avian Theropods

Non Avian Theropods of the Aptian
Taxa Presence Location Description Images
  • Acrocanthosaurus atokensis
Texas, Oklahoma, ?Maryland, USA Likely an apex predator, up to 12 meters long. Classification disputed (Carcharodontosaurid or Allosaurid)
  • Angaturama limai
Santana Formation, Ceará, Brazil 7 meters long Spinosaurid, maybe the same species as Irritator
  • Cryptovolans pauli
Jiufotang Formation, Liaoning, China Small (90 centimeters long feathered dromeaosaurid, possibly the same species as Microraptor
  • Deinonychus antirrhopus
Cloverly Formation, Montana and Wyoming, Antlers Formation, Oklahoma, Potomac Formation, Maryland, USA 3 meters long carnivorous dromeaosaurid
  • Genyodectes serus
Chubut Province, Argentina Possibly ceratosaurian
  • Huaxiagnathus orientalis
Yixian Formation, Liaoning, China Large (1.8 meter long) compsognathid
  • Kryptops palaios
Elrhaz Formation, Niger Earliest-known abelisaurid
  • Neovenator salerii
Isle of Wight, England, UK 7.5 meters long allosaurid
  • Protarchaeopteryx robusta
Yixian Formation, Liaoning, China Primitive oviraptosaur, possibly synonymous with Incisivosaurus
  • Similicaudipteryx yixianensis
Jiufotang Formation, Liaoning, China Caudipterid oviraptosaur
  • Sinornithoides youngi
China 1 meter long troodontid
  • Sinosauropteryx prima
Liaoning, China 1.20 meter long compsognathid, fossilized with traces of proto-feathers
  • Suchomimus tenerensis
Tenere, Niger 12 meters long spinosaurid
  • Tyrannotitan chubutensis
Chubut Province, Argentina 12 meters long carcharodontosaurid



  1. ^ Gradstein et al. (2004)


External links

Cretaceous period
Lower/Early Cretaceous Upper/Late Cretaceous
Berriasian | Valanginian | Hauterivian
Barremian | Aptian | Albian
Cenomanian | Turonian | Coniacian
Santonian | Campanian | Maastrichtian

1911 encyclopedia

Up to date as of January 14, 2010

From LoveToKnow 1911

APTIAN (Fr. Aptien, from Apt in Vaucluse, France), in geology, the term introduced in 1843 by A. d'Orbigny (Pal. France Crdt. ii.) for the upper stage of the Lower Cretaceous rocks. In England it comprises the Lower Greensand and part of the Speeton beds; in France it is divided into two sub-stages, the lower, "Bedoulian," of Bedoule in Provence, with Hoplites deshayesei and Ancyloceras Matheroni; and an upper, "Gargasian," from Gargas near Apt, with Hoplites furcatus (Dufrenoyi) and Phylloceras Guettardi. To this stage belong the Toucasia limestone and Orbitolina marls of Spain; the Schrattenkalk (part) of the Alpine and Carpathian regions; and the Terebrirostra limestone of the same area. Parts of the Flysch of the eastern Alps, the Biancone of Lombardy, and argile scagliose of Emilia, are of Aptian age; so also are the "Trinity Beds" of North America. Deposits of bauxite occur in the Aptian hippurite limestone at Les Baux near Arles, and in the Pyrenees. The Aptian rocks are generally clays, marls and green glauconitic sands with occasional limestones. (See GREENSAND and CRETACEOUS.)

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