Abstract

The Pennsylvanian Lancaster Formation (‘Fern Ledges’) of Saint John, New Brunswick, Canada contains a world-famous fossil biota. Largely unstudied since the works of Hartt, Dawson, Matthew, and Stopes in the mid-nineteenth to early twentieth century, we present new data concerning biostratigraphy, taxonomy, palaeoenvironments, and palaeoecology. Megafloral assemblages suggest a mid- to late Langsettian age for the succession, making it approximately coeval with the classic Joggins Formation of nearby Nova Scotia. Facies analysis suggests deposition on a tectonically influenced coastal plain whose braided channels drained into a shallow brackish gulf. Most of the historical fossil collections are derived from flooding surfaces formed by abrupt subsidence events along the coastline. Three communities are recognized. Phoronids, crustaceans, and xiphosurans lived in brackish coastal waters. A lowland community of gastropods, insects, arachnids, and myriapods inhabited coastal forests. Coastal vegetation was dominated by shrubby cordaitaleans and pteridosperms whereas ferns, sphenopsids, and lycopsids were rare. An upland or dryland community, discernible from allochthonous assemblages, comprised forests of giant cordaitaleans, archaic pteridosperms, and plants of uncertain affinity.

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