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Ichnology of an Upper Carboniferous fluvio-estuarine paleovalley: The Tonganoxie Sandstone, Buildex Quarry, Eastern Kansas, USA

  • Luis A. Buatois (a1), M. Gabriela Mangano (a1), Christopher G. Maples (a1) and William P. Lanier (a2)

Tidal rhythmites of the Tonganoxie Sandstone Member (Stranger Formation, Douglas Group) at Buildex Quarry, eastern Kansas, contain a relatively diverse ichnofauna. The assemblage includes arthropod locomotion (Dendroidichnites irregulare, Diplichnites gouldi types A and B, Diplopodichnus biformis, Kouphichnium isp., Mirandaichnium famatinense, and Stiaria intermedia), resting (Tonganoxichnus buildexensis) and feeding traces (Stiallia pilosa, Tonganoxichnus ottawensis); grazing traces (Gordia indianaensis, Helminthoidichnites tenuis, Helminthopsis hieroglyphica); feeding structures (Circulichnis montanus, Treptichnus bifurcus, Treptichnus pollardi, irregular networks), fish traces (Undichna britannica, Undichna simplicitas), tetrapod trackways, and root traces. The taxonomy of some of these ichnotaxa is briefly reviewed and emended diagnoses for Gordia indianaensis and Helminthoidichnites tenuis are proposed. Additionally, the combined name Dendroidichnites irregulare is proposed for nested chevron trackways. Traces previously regarded as produced by isopods are reinterpreted as myriapod trackways (D. gouldi type B). Trackways formerly interpreted as limulid crawling and swimming traces are assigned herein to Kouphichnium isp and Dendroidichnites irregulare, respectively.

Taphonomic analysis suggests that most grazing and feeding traces were formed before the arthropod trackways and resting traces. Grazing/feeding traces were formed in a soft, probably submerged substrate. Conversely, the majority of trackways and resting traces probably were produced subaerially in a firmer, dewatered and desiccated sediment.

The Buildex Quarry ichnofauna records the activity of a terrestrial and freshwater biota. The presence of this assemblage in tidal rhythmites is consistent with deposition on tidal flats in the most proximal zone of the inner estuary, between the maximum landward limit of tidal currents and the salinity limit further towards the sea.

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Journal of Paleontology
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