Abstract

Large mammals, especially Hippopotamus amphibius, have created a distinctive set of traces in a spring-fed freshwater wetland on the margin of the saline-alkaline crater lake in the Ngorongoro Crater, Tanzania. It is comprised of a ∼30 m diameter zone of deep (<2m) bioturbation due to hippo wallowing, surrounded by dendritic to radial hippo trails 1–5 m wide and <0.5 m deep, infilled with organic-rich mud. These trails narrow and thin as they grade into trackways on the lake flat. Tracks and trackways of more terrestrial mammals, such as bovids and equids, are found in the lake flat muds surrounding the hippo-dominated area. Associations of sedimentary structures such as these are important indicators of paleoenvironmental conditions where they are preserved in the sedimentary record, due to the strong affinity of Hippopotamidae for freshwater environments.

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