Abstract

The taphonomic pathways of “Ephemeropsis trisetalis” nymphs (mayfly larvae) were systematically investigated based on fossils of different preservational types, collected during three high–stratigraphic-resolution (mm to cm) excavations in the Lower Cretaceous Yixian Formation in the Sihetun area of western Liaoning, China. All fossils studied are fully articulated either in three or two dimensions, which indicates that decay was terminated at a stage before the exoskeleton became disarticulated. We conclude that the Jehol organic skeletons represent at least two general types of preservation produced by pyritization and collapse/compression, respectively. The two-dimensional compressions show no evidence for authigenic minerals, but the three-dimensionally preserved fossils are wholly or partially pyritized. Our study also indicates that aluminosilicate clay and pyrite mineralization are closely associated with fossil “Ephemeropsis trisetalis” nymphs, suggesting that both clay and pyrite played important roles in lacustrine fossil preservations, as in some marine fossil Lagerstätten. We propose a general model for organic tissue fossilization in the Jehol Lagerstätte based on study of taphonomy of “Ephemeropsis trisetalis” nymphs.

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