ABSTRACT

The Fonseca Formation (Eocene–Oligocene boundary, Minas Gerais, Brazil) is well known for its paleoflora, especially of flowering plants. The richness of this insect-bearing fossil locality is significantly less well understood, but we can shed light on the insect paleocommunity. One hundred and eight fossil insect specimens were examined and separated into four grades based on their preservational quality. We conducted analyses of taphonomic features, including body orientation, size, articulation, and chemical composition. Our results reveal differences in the body articulation of the insects. The fully articulated specimens apparently did not experience extensive flotation time at the water-air interface, whereas for partially articulated and disarticulated specimens the opposite is true. These taphonomic features would be acquired during the biostratinomy stage, and not early diagenesis. We also employed high resolution techniques (SEM-EDS and Raman spectroscopy) to understand their fossilization potential. Our chemical data suggest that the Fonseca insects are preserved as organic remains in carbonaceous compressions. Thus, chitin biomolecules most likely were transformed into more resistant biopolymers during diagenesis. This interpretation may also imply that the carbonaceous material originated from the insect itself. In this study, we document new discoveries and also provide future prospects for study of the Fonseca Formation.

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