, Volume 101, Issue 1, pp 47–59 | Cite as

The Early Miocene Cape Melville Formation fossil assemblage and the evolution of modern Antarctic marine communities

  • Rowan J. Whittle
  • Fernanda Quaglio
  • Huw J. Griffiths
  • Katrin Linse
  • J. Alistair Crame
Original Paper


The fossil community from the Early Miocene Cape Melville Formation (King George Island, Antarctica) does not show the archaic retrograde nature of modern Antarctic marine communities, despite evidence, such as the presence of dropstones, diamictites and striated rocks, that it was deposited in a glacial environment. Unlike modern Antarctic settings, and the upper units of the Eocene La Meseta Formation on Seymour Island, Antarctica, which are 10 million years older, the Cape Melville Formation community is not dominated by sessile suspension feeding ophiuroids, crinoids or brachiopods. Instead, it is dominated by infaunal bivalves, with a significant component of decapods, similar to present day South American settings. It is possible that the archaic retrograde structure of the modern community did not fully evolve until relatively recently, maybe due to factors such as further cooling and isolation of the continent leading to glaciations, which resulted in a loss of shallow shelf habitats.


Fossil Antarctica Early Miocene Community structure Decapod Assemblage 



This study is a part of the British Antarctic Survey Polar Science for Planet Earth Programme. It was funded by The Natural Environment Research Council. FQ was partially funded by CNPq (Conselho Nacional de Desenvolvimento Científico e Tecnológico) during the development of this work. We thank R.M. Feldmann and an anonymous reviewer for their helpful and constructive suggestions, and Sven Thatje for his editorial comments. We appreciate the help of Hilary Blagbrough with access to BAS collections and technical support. We would like to thank Dr David Barnes, the participants of JR230 and the crew off the RRS James Clark Ross for assistance with the collection of modern biological data.

Supplementary material

114_2013_1128_MOESM1_ESM.docx (23 kb)
Supplementary Table 1 Records of Recent Homolodromiidae occurrences, with minimum and maximum water depths. (DOCX 23 kb)


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag Berlin Heidelberg 2013

Authors and Affiliations

  • Rowan J. Whittle
    • 1
  • Fernanda Quaglio
    • 2
  • Huw J. Griffiths
    • 1
  • Katrin Linse
    • 1
  • J. Alistair Crame
    • 1
  1. 1.British Antarctic Survey, High CrossCambridgeUK
  2. 2.Instituto de GeociênciasUniversidade de São PauloSão PauloBrazil

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