The Late Triassic Ischigualasto Formation at Cerro Las Lajas (La Rioja, Argentina): fossil tetrapods, high-resolution chronostratigraphy, and faunal correlations

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2020-07-29

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Nature Publishing Group

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Present knowledge of Late Triassic tetrapod evolution, including the rise of dinosaurs, relies heavily on the fossil-rich continental deposits of South America, their precise depositional histories and correlations. We report on an extended succession of the Ischigualasto Formation exposed in the Hoyada del Cerro Las Lajas (La Rioja, Argentina), where more than 100 tetrapod fossils were newly collected, augmented by historical finds such as the ornithosuchid Venaticosuchus rusconii and the putative ornithischian Pisanosaurus mertii. Detailed lithostratigraphy combined with high-precision U-Pb geochronology from three intercalated tuffs are used to construct a robust Bayesian age model for the formation, constraining its deposition between 230.2 +/- 1.9 Ma and 221.4 +/- 1.2 Ma, and its fossil-bearing interval to 229.20+0.11/-0.15-226.85+1.45/-2.01 Ma. The latter is divided into a lower Hyperodapedon and an upper Teyumbaita biozones, based on the ranges of the eponymous rhynchosaurs, allowing biostratigraphic correlations to elsewhere in the Ischigualasto-Villa Union Basin, as well as to the Parana Basin in Brazil. The temporally calibrated Ischigualasto biostratigraphy suggests the persistence of rhynchosaur-dominated faunas into the earliest Norian. Our ca. 229 Ma age assignment to Pi. mertii partially fills the ghost lineage between younger ornithischian records and the oldest known saurischians at ca. 233 Ma.

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Scientific Reports. London: Nature Publishing Group, v. 10, n. 1, 34 p., 2020.

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