Abstract

Carbonaceous cherts of the Tarahumara Formation, exposed near Huepac, Sonora, Mexico, contain abundant diatom frustules occurring as benthic filamentous colonies. Stratigraphic and paleontological observations indicate that Tarahumara sediments accumulated in a nonmarine setting; radiometric ages on encompassing volcanic rocks delimit their depositional age to ca. 70 Ma. Tarahumara fossils therefore extend the paleontological record of nonmarine diatoms from middle Eocene to Late Cretaceous. Preserved populations include forms similar to species of the extant genera Amphora and Melosira, as well as filament-forming araphid pennates comparable to species of Fragilaria and Tabellaria. Tarahumara fossils indicate that by 70 Ma, nonmarine diatoms had achieved considerable environmental as well as taxonomic diversity.

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