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A new echinoderm Lagerstatte from the Pliensbachian (Early Jurassic) of the French Ardennes

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A succession of clays with thin shell beds from the French Ardennes, dated to the late Early Pliensbachian Davoei Zone and yielding abundant well-preserved remains of all five extant classes of echinoderms, is described here as a new Lagerstätte. The echinoderms occur in the form of isolated ossicles, semi-articulated plate aggregates and abundant intact skeletons with even the most delicate appendices preserved in place and the finest skeletal structures hardly blurred by recrystallisation. The outstandingly good preservation of the echinoderm specimens allows for a morphological assessment of the represented taxa in detail only rarely achievable by fossil material. The material described herein thus significantly contributes to a better understanding of the systematic position and phylogenetic background of many Early Jurassic echinoderm taxa. The echinoderms are considered to have been buried as an autochthonous or at least parautochthonous assemblage among clumps and beds of Modiolus bivalves. The depositional setting most likely represented a relatively shallow, near-shore soft-bottom environment in which conditions repeatedly favoured the settlement and subsequent effective burial of bivalve-echinoderm assemblages, leading to the formation of the thin highly fossiliferous shell beds intercalating the otherwise nearly sterile clays. The new Lagerstätte opens a unique window into the palaeoecology of an extinct shallow-water soft-bottom community closely comparable to recent analogues.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)173-185
Number of pages13
JournalSwiss Journal of Palaeontology
Volume130
Issue number1
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 2011

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