Stage 3 | Reims-Épernay / Cretaceous sea specialties

 133 km






After two days of rides through rocks of the Cenozoic - the period after the meteorite impact that killed the non-flying dinosaurs - the peloton will race through a part of the Mosasaurs hunted the seas of the CretaceousParis Basin where Cretaceous rocks are exposed.


Limestone formed by microscopically small organisms

At the end of the era of the dinosaurs (the end of the Cretaceous), large parts of northwestern Europe were covered by seawater. The climate was much hotter than today across the globe, and because there was no ice on the poles, sea level was a hundred meters or more higher than today. On the bottom of this warm Cretaceous sea, limestones formed, thick rock formation that, if you look at them under a microscope, consist grain by grain of shells and scales and skeletons of microscopically small organisms.


Giant lizards of 15m in the Cretaceous sea

The Cretaceous sea was special in many aspects. While the dinosaurs roamed the land, Mosasaurus hoffmannii - skeletonmosasaurs hunted the seas of the Cretaceous. Also near Reims, remains of mosasaurs have been found: loose teeth. Luckily, we have fossil findings from elsewhere that tell us what mosasaurs looked like: giant sea lizards, some more than 15 meters long, with flippers for steering, and a thick, muscular tail for propulsion. They were the top predators of the sea. The meteorite impact near Mexico, 66 million years ago, abruptly ended the Cretaceous, the dinosaurs, and in the sea, also the mosasaurs perished.

The soils that formed on the limestone-rich subsurface of the Cretaceous are fertile ground for the champagne grapes. The winner of today will owe the bubbles to the sparkling Cretaceous era.

Anne Schulp - Professor at Utrecht University and researcher at Naturalis Biodiversity Center

In the past two decades, Anne worked extensively in the Middle East, on dinosaurs from Oman, and dinosaur tracks from Yemen, and in Angola, where the PaleoAngola Project resulted in the discovery of a new dinosaur Angolatitan, and multiple new mosasaurs, including Prognathodon kianda. Check the Geo-TdF-team-2022.

Anne Schulp


GeoMap Tour of the Day - 3

You can zoom and pan the map, you can click on the map to get a description of the lithology (rocks). If you move the mouse over the profile (the yellow line in the graph below), the location is also shown on the map.

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