Skip to main content Accessibility help
×
Home

Vertebrate trackways among a stand of Supaia White plants on an early Permian floodplain, New Mexico

  • William A. DiMichele (a1), Spencer G. Lucas (a2) and Karl Krainer (a3)

Abstract

Little is known about the habit and spatial distribution of Early Permian tropical vegetation, a sharp contrast with the Pennsylvanian from which many in-situ “T0” assemblages are known. Even less is known about the potential interaction of plants and vertebrates. Here we report the discovery of a small stand of 34 probable Supaia White plants from the Abo Formation of New Mexico. The plants were growing on a mudflat, subject to periodic flooding and exposure. The same mudflat hosts trackways of vertebrates that appear to have walked around or between the Supaia plants. The stems are preserved as molds, and vary from 20 mm to 70 mm in diameter, averaging 42.4 mm, indicating heights of approximately 2.5–4 m. The plants, which may be described as small trees given their estimated height, are as close as 110 mm to their nearest neighbor and average nearly 300 mm apart. A series of lines or filled fissures, which we interpret as roots, radiates from the base of each stem. Leaves of Supaia thinfeldioides White are the only foliage found in association with these stems, on bedding planes above and at the base of the lowest expression of the stem molds. Associated vertebrate trackways either congregate around some of the stems or wend their way between the stems and include those of a single large temnospondyl amphibian (Limnopus Marsh) and many of small predatory parareptiles (Dromopus Marsh). This study demonstrates that S. thinfeldiodes were small-statured, weedy, opportunistic plants. It also shows that contemporaneous vertebrates prowled such environments, presumably either for food, shelter, or both given detectable pace and path.

Copyright

References

Hide All
Baird, D. 1965. Footprints from the Cutler Formation. U. S. Geological Survey Professional Paper, 503C:C47C50.
Booi, M., van Waveren, I. M., and van Konijnenburg-van Cittert, J. H. A. 2009. Comia and Rhachiphyllum from the Early Permian of Sumatra, Indonesia. Review of Palaeobotany and Palynology, 156:418435.
Buatois, L. A. and Mángano, M. G. 2007. Invertebrate ichnology of continental freshwater environments, p. 285323. InMiller, W. III(ed.), Trace Fossils: Concepts, Problems, Prospects. Elsevier, Amsterdam.
Buatois, L. A., Mángano, M. G., Genise, J. F., and Taylor, T. N. 1998. The ichnological record of the continental invertebrate invasion: evolutionary trends in environmental expansion, ecospace utilization, and behavioral complexity. Palaios, 13:217240.
Carpenter, K. 1992. Behavior of hadrosaurs as interpreted from footprints in the “Mesaverde” Group (Campanian) of Colorado, Utah, and Wyoming. Rocky Mountain Geology, 29:8196.
Deng, S.-H., Wan, C.-B., and Yang, J.-G. 2009. Discovery of a Late Permian Angara-Cathaysia mixed flora from Acheng of Heilongjiang, China, with discussions on the closure of the Paleoasian Ocean. Science in China Series D, Earth Sciences, 52:17461755.
DiMichele, W. A. and Falcon-Lang, H. J. 2011. Pennsylvanian ‘fossil forests’ in growth position (T0 assemblages): origin, taphonomic bias and palaeoecological insights. Journal of the Geological Society, 168:585605.
DiMichele, W. A., Kerp, H., Krings, M., and Chaney, D. S. 2005. The Permian peltasperm radiation: evidence from the southwestern United States. New Mexico Museum of Natural History and Science Bulletin, 30:6779.
DiMichele, W. A., Chaney, D. S., Nelson, W. J., Lucas, S. G., Looy, C. V., Quick, K., and Wang, J. 2007. A low diversity, seasonal tropical landscape dominated by conifers and peltasperms: Early Permian Abo Formation, New Mexico. Review of Palaeobotany and Palynology, 145:249273.
DiMichele, W. A., Nelson, W. J., Elrick, S., and Ames, P. R. 2009. Catastrophically buried Middle Pennsylvanian Sigillaria and calamitean sphenopsids from Indiana, U.S.A.: what kind of vegetation was this? Palaios, 24:159166.
Eberth, D. A. and Miall, A. D. 1991. Stratigraphy, sedimentology and evolution of a vertebrate-bearing, braided to anastomosed fluvial system, Cutler Formation (Permian–Pennsylvanian), north-central New Mexico. Sedimentary Geology, 72:225252.
Falcon-Lang, H. J. 2009. A Macroneuropteris scheuchzeri tree preserved in growth position in the Middle Pennsylvanian Sydney Mines Formation, Nova Scotia, Canada. Atlantic Geology, 45:7480.
Falcon-Lang, H. J., Jud, N. A., Nelson, W. J., DiMichele, W. A., Chaney, D. S., and Lucas, S. G. 2011. Pennsylvanian coniferopsid forests in sabkha facies reveal the nature of seasonal tropical biome. Geology, 39:371374.
Galtier, J. and Broutin, J. 2008. Floras from red beds of the Permian Basin of Lodève (Southern France). Journal of Iberian Geology, 34:5772.
Gand, G., Kerp, H., Parsons, C., and Martínez-García, E. 1997. Palaeoenvironmental and stratigraphic aspects of animal traces and plant remains in Spanish Permian red beds (Peña Sagra, Cantabrian Mountains, Spain). Geobios, 30:295318.
Gastaldo, R. A., Stevanovic-Walls, I. M., and Ware, W. N. 2004. Erect forests are evidence for coseismic base-level changes in Pennsylvanian cyclothems of the Black Warrior Basin, U.S.A., p. 219238. InPashin, J. C. and Gastaldo, R. A.(eds.), Sequence Stratigraphy, Paleoclimate, and Tectonics of Coal-Bearing Strata. A.A.P.G. Studies in Geology, 51.
Haubold, H. 1971. Ichnia Amphibiorum et Reptiliorum fossilium. Encyclopedia of Paleoherpetology, 18:1124.
Haubold, H. 1984. Saurierfährten. Neue Brehm-Bucherei, 231 p.
Haubold, H., Hunt, A. P., Lucas, S. G., and Lockley, M. G. 1995. Wolfcampian (Early Permian) vertebrate tracks from Arizona and New Mexico. New Mexico Museum of Natural History and Science Bulletin, 6:135165.
Hunt, A. 1983. Plant fossils and lithostratigraphy of the Abo Formation (lower Permian) in the Socorro area and plant biostratigraphy of Abo red beds in New Mexico. New Mexico Geological Society Guidebook, 34th Field Conference, Socorro Region II, 157163.
Hunt, A. P. and Lucas, S. G. 2006. Permian tetrapod ichnofacies. Geological Society of London, Special Publication, 265:137156.
Hunt, A. P., Lucas, S. G., Haubold, H., and Lockley, M. G. 1995. Early Permian (late Wolfcampian) tetrapod tracks from the Robledo Mountains, south-central New Mexico. New Mexico Museum of Natural History and Science Bulletin, 6:167180.
Johnson, K. R. 2007. Palaeobotany: forests frozen in time. Nature, 447:786787.
Krainer, K. and Lucas, S. G. 2009. Cyclic sedimentation of the upper Carboniferous Bursum Formation, central New Mexico: tectonics versus glacioeustasy. New Mexico Geological Society Guidebook, 60:167182.
Krainer, K. and Lucas, S. G. 2010. Sedimentology of the Pennsylvanian–Permian Cutler Group and Lower Permian Abo Formation, Northern New Mexico, p. 2536. InLucas, S. G., Schneider, J. W., and Spielmann, J. A.(eds.), Carboniferous–Permian Transition in Cañon del Cobre, northern New Mexico. New Mexico Museum of Natural History and Science Bulletin, 49.
Kues, B. S. and Giles, K. A. 2004. The late Paleozoic ancestral Rocky Mountains system in New Mexico, p. 95136. InMack, G. H. and Giles, K. A.(eds.), The Geology of New Mexico: A Geologic History. New Mexico Geological Society Special Publication 11.
Lucas, S. G. and Krainer, K. 2004. The Red Tanks Member of the Bursum Formation in the Lucero uplift and regional stratigraphy of the Bursum Formation in New Mexico. New Mexico Museum of Natural History and Science Bulletin, 25:4352.
Lucas, S. G., Anderson, O. J., Heckert, A. B., and Hunt, A. P. 1995. Geology of Early Permian tracksites, Robledo Mountains, south-central New Mexico. New Mexico Museum of Natural History and Science Bulletin, 6:1332.
Lucas, S. G., Heckert, A. B., Estep, J. W., and Cook, C. W. 1998. Stratigraphy of the Lower Permian Hueco Group in the Robledo Mountains, Doña Ana County, New Mexico. New Mexico Museum of Natural History and Science Bulletin, 12:4354.
Lucas, S. G., Krainer, K., and Colpitts, R. M. 2005a. Abo-Yeso (Lower Permian) stratigraphy in central New Mexico, p. 101115. InLucas, S. G., Zeigler, K. E., and Spielmann, J. A.(eds.), The Permian of Central New Mexico. New Mexico Museum of Natural History and Science Bulletin 31.
Lucas, S. G., Minter, N. J., Spielmann, J. A., Hunt, A. P., and Braddy, S. J. 2005b. Early Permian ichnofossil assemblage from the Fra Cristobal Mountains, southern New Mexico, p. 140150. InLucas, S. G., Zeigler, K. E., and Spielmann, J. A.(eds.), The Permian of Central New Mexico. New Mexico, Museum of Natural History and Science Bulletin 31.
Lucas, S. G., Minter, N. J., Spielmann, J. A., Smith, J. A., and Braddy, S. J. 2005c. Early Permian ichnofossils from the northern Caballo Mountains, Sierra County, New Mexico, p. 151162. InLucas, S. G., Zeigler, K. E., and Spielmann, J. A.(eds.), The Permian of Central New Mexico,. New Mexico, Museum of Natural History and Science Bulletin 31.
Lucas, S. G., Krainer, K., Corbitt, L., Dibenedetto, J., and Vachard, D. 2011. The Trans Mountain Road Member, a new stratigraphic unit of the Lower Permian Hueco Group, northern Franklin Mountains, Texas, p. 93109. InSullivan, R. M., Lucas, S. G., and Spielmann, J. A.(eds.), Fossil Record 3: New Mexico Museum of Natural History and Science Bulletin.
Macdonald, J. 1994. Earth's First Steps: Tracking Life Before the Dinosaurs. Johnson Books, Boulder, Colorado, 290 p.
Marsh, O. C. 1894. Footprints of vertebrates in the Coal Measures of Kansas. American Journal of Science, 3rd Series, 283:8184.
Miall, A. D. 1996. The Geology of Fluvial Deposits. Sedimentary Facies, Basin Analysis, and Petroleum Geology. Springer, Berlin, 582 p.
Minter, N. J. and Braddy, S. J. 2009. Ichnology of an Early Permian tidal flat: the Robledo Mountains Formation of the Robledo Mountains, Southern New Mexico, U.S.A. Special Papers in Palaeontology, 82:1107.
Naiman, R. J. and Décamps, H. 1997. The ecology of interfaces: riparian zones. Annual Review of Ecology and Systematics, 28:621658.
Niklas, K. J. and Spatz, H.-C. 2004. Growth and hydraulic (not mechanical) constraints govern the scaling of tree height and mass. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America, 101:1566115663.
Opluštil, S., Pšenička, J., Libertín, M., Bashforth, A. R., Šimůnek, Z., and Dašková, J. 2009. A Middle Pennsylvanian (Bolsovian) peat-forming forest preserved in situ in volcanic ash of the Whetstone Horizon in the Radnice Basin, Czech Republic. Review of Palaeobotany and Palynology, 155:234274.
Parker, L. R. and Balsley, J. K. 1989. Coal mines as localities for studying dinosaur trace fossils, p. 353360. InGillette, D. D. and Lockley, M. G.(eds.), Dinosaur Tracks and Traces, Cambridge University Press, Cambridge, U.K.
Pfefferkorn, H. W. and Wang, J. 2007. Early Permian coal-forming floras preserved as compressions from the Wuda District (Inner Mongolia, China). International Journal of Coal Geology, 69:90102.
Pfefferkorn, H. W., Gillespie, W. H., Resnick, D. A., and Scheihing, M. H. 1984. Reconstruction and architecture of medullosan pteridosperms (Pennsylvanian). The Mosasaur (Delaware Valley Paleontological Society), 2:18.
Pohlig, H. 1892. Altpermische Saurierfährten, Fische und Medusen der Gegend von Friedrichroda i. Thüringen, p. 5964. InAnonymous (ed.), Festschrift zum 70. Geburtstag von Rudolf Leuckardt, Engelmann, Leipzig, Germany.
Read, C. B. and Mamay, S. H. 1964. Upper Paleozoic floral zones and floral provinces of the United States. U.S. Geological Survey Professional Paper, 454K:135.
Stidd, B. M. 1981. The current status of medullosan seed ferns. Review of Palaeobotany and Palynology, 32:63101.
Voigt, S. and Haubold, H. 2000. Analyse zur Variabilität der Tetrapodenfährte Ichniotherium cottae aus dem Tambacher Sandstein (Rotliegend, U-Perm, Thüringen). Hallesches Jahrbuch Geowissenschat B, 22:1758.
Voigt, S., Berman, D. S., and Henrici, A. C. 2007. First well-established track-trackmaker association of Paleozoic tetrapods based on Ichniotherium trackways and diadectid skeletons from the lower Permian of Germany. Journal of Vertebrate Paleontology, 27:553570.
Wang, Z. Q. 1997. Permian Supaia fronds and an associated Autunia fructification from Shanxi, China. Palaeontology, 40:245277.
White, D. 1929. Flora of the Hermit Shale, Grand Canyon, Arizona. Carnegie Institution of Washington Bulletin, 405:1221.
Wing, S. L., Hickey, L. J., and Swisher, C. C. 1993. Implications of an exceptional fossil flora for Late Cretaceous vegetation. Nature, 363:342344.

Metrics

Full text views

Total number of HTML views: 0
Total number of PDF views: 0 *
Loading metrics...

Abstract views

Total abstract views: 0 *
Loading metrics...

* Views captured on Cambridge Core between <date>. This data will be updated every 24 hours.

Usage data cannot currently be displayed