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A Lower Cretaceous ichthyosaur graveyard in deep marine slope channel deposits at Torres del Paine National Park, southern Chile

Wolfgang Stinnesbeck, Eberhard Frey, Luis Rivas, Judith Pardo Perez, Marcelo Leppe Cartes, Christian Salazar Soto and Patricio Zambrano Lobos
A Lower Cretaceous ichthyosaur graveyard in deep marine slope channel deposits at Torres del Paine National Park, southern Chile
Geological Society of America Bulletin (May 2014) 126 (9-10): 1317-1339

Abstract

Remnants of ophthalmosaurid ichthyosaurs recently discovered in the vicinity of the Tyndall Glacier in the Torres del Paine National Park of southern Chile are extremely abundant and well preserved. After three field campaigns to the area, a total of 46 articulated and virtually complete ichthyosaur specimens, both adults and juveniles, were tentatively assigned to four different species of Ophthalmosauridae. Preservation is excellent and occasionally includes soft tissue and embryos. The skeletons are associated with ammonites, belemnites, inoceramid bivalves, and fishes as well as numerous plant remains. The enormous concentration of ichthyosaurs is unique for Chile and South America and places the Tyndall locality among the prime fossil Lagerstatten for Early Cretaceous marine reptiles worldwide. The deposit is Early Cretaceous (Valanginian-Hauterivian) in age and forms part of a monotonous bathyal to abyssal sequence of the Late Jurassic to late Early Cretaceous Rocas Verdes back-arc basin. In this region, the Tyndall ichthyosaur population may have profited from cold upwelling currents that caused abundant life at the shelf edge including masses of belemnites and small fish, the preferred diet of ichthyosaurs. The abundance of almost completely articulated ichthyosaur skeletons in the Tyndall area suggests that some animals fell victim to episodic mass-mortality events caused by turbidity currents traveling downslope through a submarine canyon. They lost orientation, drowned, and were dragged into the deep sea by these turbulent high-energy gravity flows. Their bodies ended up in an oxygen-deficient basin environment where they were immediately embedded by the fine turbidite suspension fallout. The Tyndall ichthyosaur locality thus combines characteristics of both concentration and conservation Lagerstatten.


ISSN: 0016-7606
EISSN: 1943-2674
Coden: BUGMAF
Serial Title: Geological Society of America Bulletin
Serial Volume: 126
Serial Issue: 9-10
Title: A Lower Cretaceous ichthyosaur graveyard in deep marine slope channel deposits at Torres del Paine National Park, southern Chile
Affiliation: Ruprecht-Karls-Universitaet Heidelberg, Institut fuer Geowissenschaften, Heidelberg, Germany
Pages: 1317-1339
Published: 20140522
Text Language: English
Publisher: Geological Society of America (GSA), Boulder, CO, United States
References: 166
Accession Number: 2014-048922
Categories: General paleontologyStratigraphy
Document Type: Serial
Bibliographic Level: Analytic
Illustration Description: illus. incl. 1 table, geol. sketch map
S51°08'20" - S51°08'20", W73°16'50" - W73°16'50"
Secondary Affiliation: Staatliches Museum fuer Naturkunde Karlsruhe, DEU, GermanyUniversidad de Concepcion, CHL, ChileInstituto Antartico Chileno, CHL, ChileMuseo Nacional de Historia Natural, CHL, Chile
Country of Publication: United States
Secondary Affiliation: GeoRef, Copyright 2019, American Geosciences Institute. Reference includes data from GeoScienceWorld, Alexandria, VA, United States. Reference includes data supplied by the Geological Society of America, Boulder, CO, United States
Update Code: 201427
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