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Abstract

Alluvial floodplains were a critical setting during the Late Devonian for the evolution of terrestriality among plants, invertebrate and vertebrates. The Red Hill site in Pennsylvania, US, provides a range of information about the physical and biotic setting of a floodplain ecosystem along the southern margin of the Euramerican landmass during the late Famennian age. An avulsion model for floodplain sedimentation is favoured in which a variety of inter-channel depositional settings formed a wide range of aquatic and terrestrial habitats. The Red Hill flora demonstrates ecological partitioning of the floodplain landscape at a high taxonomic level. In addition to progymnosperm forests, lycopsid wetlands and zygopterid fern glades, the flora includes patches of early spermatophytes occupying sites disturbed by fires. The Red Hill fauna illustrates the development of a diverse penecontemporaneous community including terrestrial invertebrates and a wide range of vertebrates that were living within aquatic habitats. Among the vertebrates are several limbed tetrapodomorphs that inhabited the burgeoning shallow water habitats on the floodplain.

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