Mid-Carboniferous diversification of continental ecosystems inferred from trace fossil suites in the Tynemouth Creek Formation of New Brunswick, Canada

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We report Skolithos, Scoyenia and Mermia Ichnofacies from sub-humid tropical fluvial megafan deposits in the Lower Pennsylvanian Tynemouth Creek Formation of New Brunswick, Canada, and discuss their evolutionary and palaeoecological implications, especially regarding the colonization of continental freshwater/terrestrial environments. The Skolithos Ichnofacies comprises annelid/arthropod spreite in the upper storey of a fluvial channel. The Scoyenia Ichnofacies comprises tetrapod tracks, arthropleurid trackways, and shallow annelid/arthropod burrows in active/abandoned fluvial channels and rapidly aggrading levees/splays in proximal interfluve areas. The Mermia Ichnofacies comprises abundant xiphosuran trackways, along with diverse traces of other arthropods, annelids, mollusks, and fish, in shallow freshwater lakes, ponds, and coastal bays in slowly aggrading distal interfluve areas. Transitional Mermia/Scoyenia Ichnofacies comprise tetrapod, mollusk and annelid/arthropod traces in coastal bay deposits on the distal edge of the megafan. These trace fossil suites (1) provide the clearest documentation yet of the mid-Carboniferous diversification event, when tropical continental environments became more densely populated; (2) suggest that euryhaline visitors (xiphosurans, microconchids, and other taxa) from open marine settings played a key role in this episode of freshwater colonization; and (3) provide empirical support for the “Déjà vu Effect”, the evolutionary concept that new or empty ecospace, recurrent in spatially and temporally variable environments, is colonized by simple ichnocoenoses.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)142-160
Number of pages19
JournalPalaeogeography, Palaeoclimatology, Palaeoecology
Early online date8 Sept 2015
Publication statusPublished - 15 Dec 2015

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