New Mexico Geological Society Annual Spring Meeting — Abstracts

Exceptional Trace Fossils and Fossil Plants From a New Locality in the upper part of the Abo Formation (lower Permian), Socorro County, New Mexico

Susan K. Harris1, Spencer G. Lucas1, William A. DiMichele2 and Paul T. May1

1New Mexico Museum of Natural History, 1801 Mountain Road N.W., Albuquerque, NM, 87104,
2National Museum of Natural History, Smithsonian Institution, Washington, DC, 20560

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A recently discovered tracksite in the Abo Formation in the Quebradas region of Socorro County is distinguished by unusually high ichnodiversity and exceptional preservation. This site, NMMNH (New Mexico Museum of Natural History) locality 12617, is north of Tinajas Arroyo in the Cañon de Espinoso Member of the Abo Formation, about 9 meters below the base of the overlying Yeso Group, placing it in the Dromopus biochron, only about 4 meters below its contact with the overlying Erpetopus biochron boundary. The fossil-bearing stratum is a 0.7-1.5 m thick interval of thin-bedded, ripple-laminated, very fine sandstone with extensive mudcracks. Tetrapod ichnotaxa from locality 12617 with at least one assignable track include Dromopus, Batrachichnus, Limnopus, Varanopus, Dimetropus, Amphisauropus and Ichniotherium. The invertebrate traces include the arthropod trace Monomorphichnus, reported here from the Abo Formation of Socorro County for the first time. Plant specimens consist of the conifer Walchia, the peltasperm Supaia and the callipterid Autunia conferta. Walchia and Supaia are typical of the Abo Formation throughout its extent; most Abo Formation fossil plant sites are dominated by conifer remains of several types, but some fewer by Supaia. Mixed assemblages are uncommon. Autunia conferta, of the small-pinnule type, is common only in the upper Abo Formation (Cañon de Espinoso Member). At locality 12617, many surfaces with trace fossils have microbially induced sedimentary structures (MISS), and microbial mediation of preservation likely caused some of the exceptional ichnofossil preservation at this site. The ichnofaunal composition at NMMNH locality 12617, which includes Limnopus, Ichniotherium and Dimetropus, is very different from that of the Erpetopus biochron only 4 meters above it. This is consistent with data from North America and Europe that identify a substantial change in the composition of footprint ichnoassemblages at the beginning of the Erpetopus biochron (close to the beginning of the Leonardian) due to the diversification of sauropsid reptiles, likely driven by climate changes (drying) across much of Pangea.

pp. 44

2023 New Mexico Geological Society Annual Spring Meeting
April 21, 2023, Macey Center, Socorro, NM
Online ISSN: 2834-5800