Field of Science

Early Triassic Ichnoassemblages of Wyoming

This new paper suggests the presence of dinosauromorph (cf. Rotodactylus) and turtle-like (cf. Chelonipus) trackmakers from the Lower Triassic of Wyoming.

Lovelace, D. M., and S. D. Lovelace. 2012. Paleoenvironments and paleoecology of a Lower Triassic invertebrate and vertebrate ichnoassemblage from the Red Peak Formation (Chugwater Group), central Wyoming. Palaios 27:636-657. doi: 10.2110/​palo.2012.p12-011r

Abstract - The Lower Triassic Red Peak Formation of the Chugwater Group has long been considered to have an extremely poor paleontological record, although the cause for the apparent dearth of fossils has yet to be been determined. During the course of fieldwork in central Wyoming numerous vertebrate and invertebrate ichnogenera (n ≥ 11) were observed. Vertebrate tracks and trackways representative of dinosauromorph, archosaur, lepidosaur, and testudinate trackmakers were found (cf. Rotodactylus, Chirotherium barthii, Rhynchosauroides, and cf. Chelonipus respectively). An invertebrate ichnoassemblage composed of at least 6 ichnogenera consistent with the Scoyenia ichnofacies were also found (e.g., Diplichnites, Lockeia, Fuersichnus communis, Palaeophycus striatus, cf. Scoyenia, and cf. Scolicia). The majority of these tracks and traces were found in the upper platy facies (upper 10–20 m of the Red Peak Formation), which is thought to be no younger than upper Spathian in age. Sedimentary structures, architectural elements, and lateral stratigraphic relationships support the interpretation of floodplain, fluvial, and lacustrine deposition for the upper platy facies in central Wyoming. The Red Peak Formation vertebrate and invertebrate ichnoassemblages, along with their associated depositional environments, are consistent with a fluviolacustrine (continental) setting comparable to those described from Lower to Middle Triassic strata with a Pangean distribution, including the Moenkopi Formation in the southwestern United States. This ichnoassemblage provides the first opportunity to observe paleoecological diversity and associated paleoenvironments within the Lower Triassic of the Chugwater Group.

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