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GEOREF RECORD

Complex tetrapod burrows from Middle Triassic red beds of the Argana Basin (western High Atlas, Morocco)

Sebastian Voigt, Joerg W. Schneider, Hafid Saber, Abdelkbir Hminna, Abdelouahed Lagnaoui, Hendrik Klein, Andreas Brosig and Jan Fischer
Complex tetrapod burrows from Middle Triassic red beds of the Argana Basin (western High Atlas, Morocco)
Palaios (September 2011) 26 (9): 555-566

Abstract

Although burrowing ability has been widespread in tetrapods for more than 300 million years, subsurface dwelling structures that indicate communal behavior are poorly evidenced from pre-Cenozoic strata. Here we present recently discovered tetrapod burrows from Middle Triassic red beds of the Argana Basin in central Morocco, whose complexity suggests an origin by gregarious animals. The well-preserved burrows occur in interbedded mudstones and sandstones interpreted as channel and overbank deposits of ephemeral, braided streams. All burrows originate from the top of thick-bedded sandstones and descend as moderately inclined (10 degrees -30 degrees ), partially spiral tunnels to laterally extended, branched chambers in underlying mudstones. Tunnel segments are biconvex to planoconvex in cross section, up to 20 cm wide and 12 cm in maximum height and exhibit transverse scratch marks along the ceilings and sidewalls. Distinctive burrow characteristics include a laterally sinuous geometry (wavelength lambda = 38-45 cm; amplitude A = 5-10 cm) of the tubelike passages and the presence of grouped alcoves in terminal chambers. We attribute the burrows to procolophonids or therapsids based on closely associated tetrapod tracks and the limited diameter of the excavations. Our findings represent the second oldest record of communal fossorial behavior by tetrapods and the oldest example from low-latitude areas. Beyond providing refuge from predators, these elaborate underground structures probably functioned as a buffer against diurnal or seasonal variations of air temperature and humidity in a semiarid habitat that was situated just north of the paleoequator.


ISSN: 0883-1351
Serial Title: Palaios
Serial Volume: 26
Serial Issue: 9
Title: Complex tetrapod burrows from Middle Triassic red beds of the Argana Basin (western High Atlas, Morocco)
Affiliation: Technische Universitaet Bergakademie Freiberg, Geological Institute, Freiberg, Germany
Pages: 555-566
Published: 20110901
Text Language: English
Publisher: Society for Sedimentary Geology, Tulsa, OK, United States
References: 71
Accession Number: 2011-080451
Categories: Vertebrate paleontology
Document Type: Serial
Bibliographic Level: Analytic
Illustration Description: illus. incl. 2 tables, sect., geol. sketch map
N30°49'00" - N30°49'00", W09°04'60" - W09°04'60"
Secondary Affiliation: Chouaib Doukkali University, MAR, MoroccoSaurierwelt Palaeontologisches Museum, DEU, Germany
Country of Publication: United States
Secondary Affiliation: GeoRef, Copyright 2017, American Geosciences Institute. Reference includes data from GeoScienceWorld, Alexandria, VA, United States. Reference includes data supplied by SEPM (Society for Sedimentary Geology), Tulsa, OK, United States
Update Code: 201144
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