System Series Stage Age (Ma)
Cretaceous Lower Berriasian younger
Jurassic Upper Tithonian 145.5–150.8
Kimmeridgian 150.8–155.7
Oxfordian 155.7–161.2
Middle Callovian 161.2–164.7
Bathonian 164.7–167.7
Bajocian 167.7–171.6
Aalenian 171.6–175.6
Lower Toarcian 175.6–183.0
Pliensbachian 183.0–189.6
Sinemurian 189.6–196.5
Hettangian 196.5–199.6
Triassic Upper Rhaetian older
Subdivision of the Jurassic system according to the IUGS, as of July 2009.

The Pliensbachian is an age of the geologic timescale or stage in the stratigraphic column. It is part of the Early or Lower Jurassic epoch or series and spans the time between 189.6 ± 1.5 Ma and 183 ± 1.5 Ma (million years ago). The Pliensbachian is preceded by the Sinemurian and followed by the Toarcian.[1]

The Pliensbachian ended with the extinction event called the Toarcian turnover. During the Pliensbachian, the middle part of the Lias was deposited in Europe. The Pliensbachian is roughly coeval with the Charmouthian regional stage of North America.


Stratigraphic definitions

The Pliensbachian takes its name from the hamlet of Pliensbach in the community of Zell unter Aichelberg in the Swabian Alb, some 30 km east of Stuttgart in Germany. The name was introduced into scientific literature by German palaeontologist Albert Oppel in 1858.

The base of the Pliensbachian is at the first appearances of the ammonite species Bifericeras donovani and genera Apoderoceras and Gleviceras. The Wine Haven profile near Robin Hood's Bay (Yorkshire, England) has been appointed as global reference profile for the base (GSSP).[2]

The top of the Pliensbachian (the base of the Toarcian stage) is at the first appearance of ammonite genus Eodactylites.


Pleuroceras spinatum Museum of Toulouse

The Pliensbachian contains five ammonite biozones in the boreal domain:

In the Tethys domain, the Pliensbachian contains six biozones:



Ornithischians of the Pliensbachian
Taxa Presence Location Description Images
Lower Lufeng Formation, Yunnan, China A dubious basal thyreophoran
Lower Lufeng Formation, Yunnan, China Description based on only a partial left mandible with teeth, a dubious basal thyreophoran


Theropods of the Pliensbachian
Taxa Presence Location Description Images
Hanson Formation, Antarctica The earliest known tetanuran. About 6 to 8 meters (20 to 26 feet) long with a high, narrow skull and a peculiar nasal crest just over the eyes
Sinemurian to Pliensbachian Arizona, USA; Yunnan, China Measured around six meters (20 ft) long and may have weighed half a ton. The most distinctive characteristic of Dilophosaurus is the pair of rounded crests on its skull, possibly used for display.



  1. ^ See Gradstein et al. (2004) for a detailed geologic timescale
  2. ^ Meister et al. (2006)


  • Gradstein, F.M.; Ogg, J.G. & Smith, A.G.; 2004: A Geologic Time Scale 2004, Cambridge University Press.
  • Howart, M.K.; 2002: The Lower Lias of Robin Hood's Bay, Yorkshire, and the work of Leslie Bairstow, Bulletin of The Natural History Museum. Geology Series 58, p. 81–152, Cambridge University Press, The Natural History Museum, (abstract)
  • Meister, C.; Aberhan, M.; Blau, J.; Dommergues, J.-L.; Feist-Burkhardt, S.; Hailwood, E.A.; Hart, M.; Hesselbo, S.P.; Hounslow, M.W.; Hylton, M.; Morton, N.; Page, K & Price, G.D.; 2006: The Global Boundary Stratotype Section and Point (GSSP) for the base of the Pliensbachian Stage (Lower Jurassic), Wine Haven, Yorkshire, UK, Episodes 29(2), pp. 93-106.
  • Oppel, C.A.; 1856-1858: Die Juraformation Englands, Frankreichs und des südwestlichen Deutschlands: nach ihren einzelnen Gliedern engetheilt und verglichen, 857 pp., Ebner & Seubert, Stuttgart. (German)

External links

Jurassic Period
Lower/Early Jurassic Middle Jurassic Upper/Late Jurassic
Hettangian | Sinemurian
Pliensbachian | Toarcian
Aalenian | Bajocian
Bathonian | Callovian
Oxfordian | Kimmeridgian

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