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A new tetrapod ichnotaxon from Botucatu formation, Lower Cretaceous (Neocomian), Brazil, with comments on fossil track preservation on inclined planes and local paleoecology.

November 30 , 2016:


Brasilichnium saltatorium isp. nov., a new tetrapod ichnospecies with saltatorial locomotion is described.
The new ichnotaxon can be associated to a mammaliform producer.
Brasilichnium saltatorium isp. nov. and B. elusivum could be produced by the same organism.
Neoichnological experiments corroborates differences in parameters between different directions of movement in fossil trackways.
Brasilichnium producer was likely a generalist organism with omnivorous and fossorial habits.
São Bento quarry paleoenviroment had local high humidity and sustained an abundant paleofauna.


Botucatu Formation is a paleoerg, worldwide famous for its vertebrate and invertebrate ichnofossils. Among Botucatu Formation tetrapod tracks, ichnogenus Brasilichnium Leonardi, 1981 is well known, being generally attributed to mammaliform trackmakers. In this study a new ichnotaxon is described, Brasilichnium saltatorium isp. nov., characterized by a hopping locomotion in phases. The new ichnotaxon differs from B. elusivum Leonardi, 1981 mainly for the locomotion pattern. It also differs from other ichnotaxa by indicating hopping progression regarding limb morphology and track configuration. Fossil evidence shows B. saltatorium and B. elusivum could be produced by the same organism and represent an alternation in locomotory behavior. Neoichnological experiments were conducted to better understand track preservation and aspects of saltatorial dynamics on inclined planes. It was observed differences in heteropody degree may be related to movement direction and locomotion effort on ascending or descending the incluned plane. Due to extramorphological features, heteropody is more evident when the producer climbs the simulated dune. Also, when the movement is ascendent, lack of handprints can occur. This can be explained by total overlap of pes and manus impression and subsurface hand impression. Comparing with recent organisms living in similar environments and conditions, the Botucatu Formation B. saltatorium producer should have been a generalist organism likely with an omnivorous habit. It may have adopted hopping locomotion to gain velocity when hunting, escaping predators, or to facilitate progression on inclined planes and hot sand. São Bento quarry represents a paleodesert environment with relative high humidity, where temporary lagoons may have formed during pluvial events. Paleo-rain episode evidence is preserved through raindrops impact craters on local sandstone. São Bento quarry paleoenvironment sustained a rich paleofauna, represented by abundant ichnofossils. This local diversity suggests a punctual productive desert paleocommunity with several paleoecological interactions, where Brasilichnium producer was one of the fundamental elements.

Pedro Victor Buck, Aline Marcele Ghilardi, Bernardo de C. P. e M. Peixoto, Luciana Bueno dos Reis Fernandes & Marcelo Adorna Fernandes (2016)
A new tetrapod ichnotaxon from Botucatu formation, Lower Cretaceous (Neocomian), Brazil, with comments on fossil track preservation on inclined planes and local paleoecology.
Palaeogeography, Palaeoclimatology, Palaeoecology (advance online publication)
doi: http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.palaeo.2016.11.009


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