Ichnofossils of the Psilonichnus Ichnofacies and their paleoecological and paleoenvironmental significance in the Scottish Middle Jurassic.

P. Marshall, Nigel Harvey Trewin, Adrian John Hartley

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In the Bathonian (Middle Jurassic) Kilmaluag Formation, Great Estuarine Group, on the Isle of Skye, northwest Scotland, are ichnofossils that can be attributed to the burrowing activity of semi-terrestrial crab-like animals. The ichnofossils are preserved within supralittoral breccia-conglomerates and littoral calcareous mudstones and micrites deposited in a closed and shallow, low-salinity to freshwater coastal-lagoon setting. The dominant ichnofossil assemblage is preserved in the supralittoral rocks and comprises variable burrow types forming an ichnocoenosis and assigned to the Psilonichnus ichnofacies. These ichnofossils potentially provide the earliest known record of crab activity and their physiological adaptation to survive in a semi-terrestrial environment. Burrow characteristics include enlarged funnel-shaped apertures, unlined walls, absence of branching or biogenic reworking, inclined to vertical, U- and L-shaped forms and possible basal dwelling chamber. The ichnofossil assemblage preserved in the littoral rocks is attributed to the activity of either semi-terrestrial crabs or shrimps. Ichnofaunal characteristics reveal unique aspects of the paleoenvironments and paleoecology of the tracemaking community, including climatic conditions, substrate characteristics, the possible influence of paleowater table levels, paleoshoreline position, spatial variation in burrow morphology and possible gregarious and territorial behavior.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)95-108
Number of pages13
Issue number3-4
Publication statusPublished - 2003


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