All I Want for Christmas is a Lagerstätte like this one: Exceptional Preservation of the Middle Triassic Luoping Biota of China

This new paper has been getting a lot of attention already (here and here). It basically provides some preliminary discussion of a well preserved marine fossil assemblage from the Middle Triassic of China which is rich in invertebrates, plants, and vertebrates. A detailed community structure and food web is proposed and the presence of top predators (e.g., ichthyosaurs) suggests a full recovery of the ecosystem following the end Permian extinction.  Based on the photographs in the article (one reproduced below), the specimens from this site are absolutely suberb, and this biota should be actively researched for years to come. I just need to find a Chinle lakebed that was full of microbial mats.

Hu, S.-x,. Zhang, Q.-y., Chen, Z.-Q., Zhou, C.-y., Lü, T., Xie, T., Wen, W., Huang, J. -y.,  and M. J. Benton, 2010. The Luoping biota: exceptional preservation, and new evidence on the Triassic recovery from end-Permian mass extinction. Proceedings of the Royal Society: B (advance online publication) doi: 10.1098/rspb.2010.2235

Abstract - The timing and nature of biotic recovery from the devastating end-Permian mass extinction (252 Ma) are much debated. New studies in South China suggest that complex marine ecosystems did not become re-established until the middle–late Anisian (Middle Triassic), much later than had been proposed by some. The recently discovered exceptionally preserved Luoping biota from the Anisian Stage of the Middle Triassic, Yunnan Province and southwest China shows this final stage of community assembly on the continental shelf. The fossil assemblage is a mixture of marine animals, including abundant lightly sclerotized arthropods, associated with fishes, marine reptiles, bivalves, gastropods, belemnoids, ammonoids, echinoderms, brachiopods, conodonts and foraminifers, as well as plants and rare arthropods from nearby land. In some ways, the Luoping biota rebuilt the framework of the pre-extinction latest Permian marine ecosystem, but it differed too in profound ways. New trophic levels were introduced, most notably among top predators in the form of the diverse marine reptiles that had no evident analogues in the Late Permian. The Luoping biota is one of the most diverse Triassic marine fossil Lagerstätten in the world, providing a new and early window on recovery and radiation of Triassic marine ecosystems some 10 Myr after the end-Permian mass extinction.

There is more information here.


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