Abstract

The Bromacker section of the Lower Permian, Tambach Formation, in central Germany, yields an important fossil-vertebrate assemblage that was deposited in an upland setting near the center of a small, internally-drained paleo-graben. The fossil-vertebrate assemblage shares many taxa in common with others that are well-documented from North America, but is atypical in the: (1) unusually large abundance of the terrestrial herbivore Diadectes; (2) complete absence of aquatic and semi-aquatic vertebrates; and (3) rarity of medium-to-large carnivorous synapsids. The graben setting and the low-diversity, terrestrial, fossil-vertebrate assemblage together comprise a unique upland paleoecosystem, heretofore undocumented in the Early Permian. The composition of and relative abundances within the assemblage at Bromacker suggest that experiments with “high-fiber” vertebrate herbivores as the dominant or significant basal component of vertebrate food webs had begun by the Early Permian, but only in settings with few or no aquatic and semi-aquatic vertebrates.

The combined stratigraphic section at Bromacker consists of portions of two conformable stratigraphic intervals—the Lower and the Upper beds. Depositional events in both were dominated by seasonal-to-subseasonal cycles of flooding in an ephemeral, alluvial-to-lacustrine setting that was hot year-round with annual precipitation similar to that of a wet-and-dry tropical or wetter climate. Excellently preserved, articulated and disarticulated fossil vertebrates indicate subaerial exposure times of short duration and limited reworking. In the case of articulated specimens, death and burial were probably coeval events, most likely caused by floods.

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