Gardin, S., Krystyn, L., Richoz, S., Bartolini, A. & Galbrun, B. 2012: Where and when the earliest coccolithophores? Lethaia, Vol. 45, pp. 507–523.
New calcareous nannofossil analyses from the Northern Calcareous Alps of Austria are herein used to update and improve the state of knowledge about the oldest occurrence of coccolithophores reported in the literature. Previously reported Norian occurrences of coccoliths were based on an obsolete Triassic chronostratigraphy, in which the Rhaetian stage was subsumed into the Norian (‘Sevatian 2’). The oldest stratigraphical record of coccoliths spp. lies just below the Norian-Rhaetian boundary and the first coccolith species, Crucirhabdus minutus, is recorded from the base of Rhaetian stage. The latter bio-event is located just above the First Occurrence of the conodont Misikella posthersteni and the first occurrence of the ammonoid Paracochloceras suessi in the Steinbergkogel section (Austria), Global Stratotype Section and Point (GSSP) candidate for the Norian–Rhaetian boundary. The appearance of the coccolith Crucirhabdus minutus is seen as a robust biochronological datum that will provide useful constraints for Triassic biostratigraphy, palaeoclimatic modelling and phylogenetic reconstructions. The new calcareous nannofossil biochronology of Steinbergkogel that we present herein completes the existing biostratigraphic characterization of the Norian-Rhaetian transition based on conodonts and ammonoids and strengthens the position of Steinbergkogel as the best GSSP proposed section for the base of the Rhaetian. The record of coccolithophores across the Norian–Rhaetian boundary at Steinbergkogel takes place along with a discernible increase in abundance of Prinsiosphaera triassica, as well as the appearance of Euconusphaera zlambachensis, which are the two most important Rhaetian pelagic carbonate producers. This succession of bio-events is interpreted as the initiation of the pelagic carbonate production driven by the successful spreading of calcareous nannofossils in the Western Tethys during the Rhaetian. □Austria, Calcareous Alps, coccolithophores, Triassic.