A Lagerstätte from Australia provides insight into the nature of Miocene mesic ecosystems

Matthew R. McCurry, David J. Cantrill, Patrick M. Smith, Robert Beattie, Mary Dettmann, Viktor Baranov, Charles Magee, Jacqueline M.T. Nguyen, Marnie A. Forster, Jack Hinde, Ross Pogson, Helen Wang, Christopher E. Marjo, Paulo Vasconcelos, Michael Frese

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Abstract

Reduced precipitation in the Miocene triggered the geographic contraction of rainforest ecosystems around the world. In Australia, this change was particularly pronounced; mesic rainforest ecosystems that once dominated the landscape transformed into the shrublands, grasslands, and deserts of today. A lack of well-preserved fossils has made it difficult to understand the nature of Australian ecosystems before the aridification. Here, we report on an exceptionally well-preserved rainforest biota from New South Wales, Australia. This Konservat-Lagerstätte hosts a rich diversity of microfossils, plants, insects, spiders, and vertebrate remains preserved in goethite. We document evidence for several species interactions including predation, parasitism, and pollination. The fossils are indicative of an oxbow lake in a mesic rainforest and suggest that rainforest distributions have shifted since the Miocene. The variety of fossils preserved, together with high fidelity of preservation, allows for unprecedented insights into the mesic ecosystems that dominated Australia during the Miocene.

Original languageEnglish
Article numbereabm1406
Number of pages11
JournalScience Advances
Volume8
Issue number1
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 7 Jan 2022

Keywords

  • Miocene
  • mesic rainforest ecosystems
  • Australian ecosystems

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