Abstract

In the Central Anti-Atlas (Morocco), the lower part of the Fezouata Shale has yielded locally abundant remains of soft-bodied to lightly sclerotized taxa, occurring in low diversity assemblages characterized by strong spatial and taxonomic heterogeneities, and frequently, by the occurrence of small-sized individuals. Size frequency analyses of Celdobolus sp., Wosekella sp. (both linguliformean brachiopods) and Babinka prima (babinkid bivalve) collected in deposits of the Fezouata Shale and associated with distinct paleoenvironmental conditions show that short-lived communities of epifaunal and shallow infaunal taxa were regularly smothered and killed by distal storm deposits. Small-sized individuals more likely represent juveniles, rather than ‘dwarfed' adults (Lilliput Effect). Consequently, unstable environmental conditions (regular storms, and possibly low oxygenation of the water column) probably explain the unusual community dynamics of late Tremadocian assemblages of the Fezouata Biota (high density of individuals, low α-diversity, and high γ-diversity), interpreted as short-lived, opportunistic populations. This process has wider implications for the understanding of occurrences of small individuals elsewhere in the fossil record.

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