Journal of Earth Science

, Volume 29, Issue 4, pp 854–863 | Cite as

Palaeoecological Analysis of Trace Fossil Sinusichnus sinuosus from the Middle Triassic Guanling Formationin Southwestern China

  • Mao LuoEmail author
  • Yi-Ming Gong
  • G. R. Shi
  • Zhong-Qiang Chen
  • Jinyuan Huang
  • Shixue Hu
  • Xueqian Feng
  • Qiyue Zhang
  • Changyong Zhou
  • Wen Wen


The Luoping Biota discovered from the early Middle Triassic (Anisian) Guanling Formation of southwestern China represents a fully recovered shallow marine ecosystem, marking the end point of Early Triassic biotic recovery following the end-Permian mass extinction. Contemporaneously preserved are prolific trace fossils, which offer good opportunities to understand the palaeoecology of marine invertebrates from a fully recovered shallow marine ecosystem. Here we present a newly discovered sinuous branching burrow from the fossil-bearing unit in Member II of the Guanling Formation. Several features, including the horizontal regular sinuous nature, the branching pattern, typical H-junction, and the small wavelength/amplitude ratio of these sinuous structures within the burrow systems justify assignment of these traces as Sinusichnus sinuosus, a trace possibly produced by decapod crustaceans. Close association of S. sinuosus with Rhizocorallium commune suggests a deposit-feeding strategy of these trace makers. The newly reported Anisian material from the Guanling Formation in Luoping represents first report of Sinusichnus from South China. The global record of Sinusichnus occurrence suggests that these burrows might have an older history than Early Middle Triassic.

Key words

Sinusichnus sinuosus decapod crustacean trace fossil Middle Triassic Luoping southwestern China 


Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.

Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.



This study was partly supported by the ARCDP discovery grant to G. R. Shi (No. DP15Q1QQ69Q). This research has also been supported by a CAS Pioneer Hundred Talents Program (to ML). This research is also supported by a grant from the State Key Laboratory of Biogeology and Environmental Biology (No. GBL2141Q to ML), China University of Geosciences (Wuhan), and a grant from the National Natural Science Foundation of China (No. 41502013). This research has also been supported by for China Geological Survey projects (Nos. DD2Q16QQ2Q, 1212011140051, 12120114030601, and 1212010610211). This paper is a contribution to the IGCP 630 "Permian-Triassic climatic and environmental extremes and biotic response". The final publication is available at Springer via

References Cited

  1. Bai, J. K., Yin, F. G., Zhang, Q. Y., 2011a. Microfacies and Enrichment Pattern of Fossils in the Fossiliferous Beds of Luoping Biota, Yunnan Province. Geology in China, 38: 393–402 (in Chinese with English Abstract)Google Scholar
  2. Bai, J. K., Zhang, Q. Y., Huang, J. Y., et al., 2011b. Middle Triassic Sequence Stratigraphy and Sedimentary Facies Analysis at the Shangshikan Section of the Luoping County, Yunnan Province. Journal of Stratigraphy, 35: 278–286 (in Chinese with English Abstract)Google Scholar
  3. Belaústegui, Z., de Gibert, J. M., Lopez–Blanco, M., et al., 2014. Recurrent Constructional Pattern of the Crustacean Burrow Sinusichnus Sinuosus from the Paleogene and Neogene of Spain. Acta Palaeontologica Polonica, 59: 461–474. Google Scholar
  4. Benton, M. J., Zhang, Q. Y., Hu, S. X., et al., 2013. Exceptional Vertebrate Biotas from the Triassic of China, and the Expansion of Marine Ecosystems after the Permo–Triassic Mass Extinction. Earth–Science Reviews, 125: 199–243. Google Scholar
  5. Bordy, E. M., Linkermann, S., Prevec, R., 2011. Palaeoecological Aspects of Some Invertebrate Trace Fossils from the Mid–to Upper Permian Middleton Formation (Adelaide Subgroup, Beaufort Group, Karoo Supergroup), Eastern Cape, South Africa. Journal of African Earth Sciences, 61(3): 238–244. CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  6. Buatois, L. A., Macsotay, O., Quiroz, L. I., 2009. Sinusichnus, a Trace Fossil from Antarctica and Venezuela: Expanding the Dataset of Crustacean Burrows. Lethaia, 42(4): 511–518. CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  7. Chen, Z.–Q., Benton, M. J., 2012. The Timing and Pattern of Biotic Recovery Following the End–Permian Mass Extinction. Nature Geoscience, 5(6): 375–383. CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  8. De Gibert, J. M., 1996. A New Decapod Burrow System from the NW Mediterranean Pliocene. Revista Española de Paleontología, 11: 251–254.Google Scholar
  9. De Gibert, J. M., Jeong, K., Martinell, J., 1999. Ethologic and Ontogenic Significance of the Pliocene Trace Fossil Sinusichnus Sinuosus from the Northwestern Mediterranean. Lethaia, 32(1): 31–40. CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  10. Ekdale, A. A., 1992. Muckraking and Mudslinging: The Joys of Deposit–Feeding. In: Maples, C. G., West, R. R., eds., Trace Fossils. Short Courses in Paleontology. The Paleontological Society, Knoxville, Tenn. 5: 145–171Google Scholar
  11. Enos, P., Lehrmann, D. J., Wei, J. Y., et al., 2006. Triassic Evolution of the Yangtze Platform in Guizhou Province, People’s Republic of China. Geological Society of America, Special Paper, 417: 1–105.Google Scholar
  12. Erwin, D. H., 2006. Extinction: How Life on Earth Nearly Ended 250 Million Years Ago. Princeton University Press, Princeton. 1–296Google Scholar
  13. Erwin, D. H., Bowring, S. A., Jin, Y. G., 2002. End–Permian Mass Extinction: A Review. In: Koeberl, C., MacLeod, K. G., eds., Catastrophic Events and Mass Extinctions: Impacts and Beyond. Geological Society of America, Special Paper, 256: 353–383Google Scholar
  14. Feldmann, R. M., Schweitzer, C. E., Hu, S. X., et al., 2012. Macrurous Decapoda from the Luoping Biota (Middle Triassic) of China. Journal of Paleontology, 86(3): 425–441. CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  15. Feldmann, R. M., Schweitzer, C. E., Hu, S. X., et al., 2015. Spatial Distribution of Crustacea and Associated Organisms in the Luoping Biota (Anisian, Middle Triassic), Yunnan Province, China: Evidence of Periodic Mass Kills. Journal of Paleontology, 89(6): 1022–1037. CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  16. Feldmann, R. M., Schweitzer, C. E., Hu, S. X., et al., 2017. A New Middle Triassic (Anisian) Cyclidan Crustacean from the Luoping Biota, Yunnan Province, China: Morphologic and Phylogenetic Insights. Journal of Crustacean Biology, 37(4): 406–412. CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  17. Feng, Z. Z., Bao, Z. D., Li, S. W., 1997. Lithofacies Paleogeography of Early and Middle Triassic of South China. Petroleum Industry Press, Beijing. 1–222 (in Chinese)Google Scholar
  18. Häntzschel, W., 1975. Trace Fossil and Problematica. In: Teichert, C., ed., Treatise on Invertebrate Paleontology, Part W, Miscellanea, Supplement I. Geological Society of America and University of Kansas Press, Kansas. 1–269Google Scholar
  19. Hu, S. L., Li, Y. J., Dai, M., et al., 1996. The Laser Mass–Spectrometer 40Ar–49Ar Age of Green Pisolites of Guizhou Province. Acta Petrologica Sinica, 12: 409–415 (in Chinese)Google Scholar
  20. Hu, S. X., Zhang, Q. Y., Chen, Z. Q., et al., 2011. The Luoping Biota: Exceptional Preservation, and New Evidence on the Triassic Recovery from End–Permian Mass Extinction. Proceedings of the Royal Society B: Biological Sciences, 278(1716): 2274–2282. CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  21. Huang, J. Y., Feldmann, R. M., Schweitzer, C. E., et al., 2013. A New Shrimp (Decapoda, Dendrobranchiata, Penaeoidea) from the Middle Triassic of Yunnan, Southwest China. Journal of Paleontology, 87(4): 603–611. CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  22. Huang, J. Y., Zhang, K. X., Zhang, Q. Y., et al., 2009. Conodonts Stratigraphy and Sedimentary Environment of the Middle Triassic at Daaozi Section of Luoping County, Yunnan Province, South China. Acta Micropalaeontologica Sinica, 26: 211–224 (in Chinese with English Abstract)Google Scholar
  23. Kappel, O., 2003. Ichnofossilienim Campanium des SE–Münsterlan–des. Münster Fortschritte der Geologie und paläontologie, 96: 1–195Google Scholar
  24. Knaust, D., 2013. The Ichnogenus Rhizocorallium: Classification, Trace Makers, Palaeoenvironments and Evolution. Earth–Science Reviews, 126: 1–47. Google Scholar
  25. Knaust, D., Uchman, A., Hagdorn, H., 2016. The Probable Isopod BurrowSinusichnus Seilacheriisp. N. from the Middle Triassic of Germany: An Example of Behavioral Convergence. Ichnos, 23(1/2): 138–146. CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  26. Lehrmann, D. J., Enos, P., Payne, J. L., et al., 2005. Permian and Triassic Depositional History of the Yangtze Platform and Great Bank of Guizhou in the Nanpanjiang Basin of Guizhou and Guangxi, South China. Albertiana, 33: 149–168Google Scholar
  27. Liu, J., Hu, S. X., Rieppel, O., et al., 2014. A Gigantic Nothosaur (Reptilia: Sauropterygia) from the Middle Triassic of SW China and Its Implication for the Triassic Biotic Recovery. Scientific Reports, 4(1): e7142. CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  28. Luo, M., Chen, Z.–Q., Hu, S., et al., 2013. Carbonate Reticulated Ridge Structures from the Lower Middle Triassic of the Luoping Area, Yunnan, Southwestern China: Geobiologic Features and Implications for Exceptional Preservation of the Luoping Biota. Palaios, 28(8): 541–551. CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  29. Luo, M., Hu, S. X., Benton, M. J., et al., 2017a. Taphonomy and Palaeobiology of Early Middle Triassic Coprolites from the Luoping Biota, Southwest China: Implications for Reconstruction of Fossil Food Webs. Palaeogeography, Palaeoclimatology, Palaeoecology, 474: 232–246. CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  30. Luo, M., Shi, G. R., Hu, S. X., et al., 2017b. Early Middle Triassic Trace Fossils from the Luoping Biota, Southwestern China: Evidence of Recovery from Mass Extinction. Palaeogeography, Palaeoclimatology, Palaeoecology. Google Scholar
  31. McCann, T., Pickerill, R. K., 1988. Flysch Trace Fossils from the Cretaceous Kodiak Formation of Alaska. Journal of Paleontology, 62(3): 330–348. CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  32. Reineck, H. E., 1963. Sedimentgefüge im Bereich der Südliche Nordsee. Abh. Senckenb. Naturforsch. Ges., 505: 1–138Google Scholar
  33. Rodríguez–Tovar, Pérez–Valera, 2008. Trace Fossil Rhizocorallium from the Middle Triassic of the Betic Cordillera, Southern Spain: Characterization and Environmental Implications. Palaios, 23(2): 78–86. CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  34. Schweitzer, C. E., Feldmann, R. M., Hu, S. X., et al., 2014. Penaeoid Decapoda (Dendrobranchiata) from the Luoping Biota (Middle Triassic) of China: Systematics and Taphonomic Framework. Journal of Paleontology, 88(3): 457–474. CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  35. Seilacher, A., 2007. Trace Fossil Analysis. Springer–Verlag, Berlin, Germany. 1–226Google Scholar
  36. Shen, S. Z., Crowley, J. L., Wang, Y., et al., 2011. Calibrating the End–Permian Mass Extinction. Science, 334: 1367–1372. CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  37. Song, H. J., Wignall, P. B., Tong, J. N., et al., 2012. Geochemical Evidence from Bio–Apatite for Multiple Oceanic Anoxic Events during Permian–Triassic Transition and the Link with End–Permian Extinction and Recovery. Earth and Planetary Science Letters, 353/354: 12–21. CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  38. Stanley, S. M., 2016. Estimates of the Magnitudes of Major Marine Mass Extinctions in Earth History. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, 113(42): E6325–E6334. CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  39. Taylor, A. M., Goldring, R., 1993. Description and Analysis of Bioturbation and Ichnofabric. Journal of the Geological Society, 150(1): 141–148. CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  40. Tian, L., Tong, J. N., Algeo, T. J., et al., 2014. Reconstruction of Early Triassic Ocean Redox Conditions Based on Framboidal Pyrite from the Nanpanjiang Basin, South China. Palaeogeography, Palaeoclimatology, Palaeoecology, 412: 68–79. CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  41. Uchman, A., 1998. Taxonomy and Ethology of Flysch Trace Fossils: Revision of the Marian Ksiaikiewicz Collection and Studies of Complementary Material. Annales Societatis Geologorum Poloniae, 68: 105–218Google Scholar
  42. Wen, W., Zhang, Q. Y., Hu, S. X., et al., 2012a. Coelacanths from the Middle Triassic Luoping Biota, Yunnan, South China, with the Earliest Evidence of Ovoviviparity. Acta Palaeontologica Polonica, 58(1): 175–193. Google Scholar
  43. Wen, W., Zhang, Q. Y., Hu, S. X., et al., 2012b. A New Basal Actinopterygian Fish from the Anisian (Middle Triassic) of Luoping, Yunnan Province, Southwest China. Acta Palaeontologica Polonica, 57(1): 149–160. CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  44. Zhang, F. F., Romaniello, S. J., Algeo, T. J., et al., 2018. Multiple Episodes of Extensive Marine Anoxia Linked to Global Warming and Continental Weathering Following the Latest Permian Mass Extinction. Science Advances, 4(4): e1602921. CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  45. Zhang, L. J., Buatois, L. A., Mángano, M. G., et al., 2018. Early Triassic Trace Fossils from South China Marginal–Marine Settings: Implication for Biotic Recovery Following the End–Permian Mass Extinction. G. S. A. Bulletin.Google Scholar
  46. Submitted Zhang, Q. Y., Wen, W., Hu, S. X., et al., 2014. Nothosaur Foraging Tracks from the Middle Triassic of Southwestern China. Nature Communications, 5(1): 3973e. CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  47. Zhang, Q. Y., Zhou, C. Y., Lu, T., et al., 2008. Discovery and Significance of the Middle Triassic Anisian Biota. Geology Review, 54: 523–527 (in Chinese with English Abstract)Google Scholar
  48. Zhang, Q. Y., Zhou, C. Y., Lu, T., et al., 2009. A Conodont–Based Middle Triassic Age Assignment for the Luoping Biota of Yunnan, China. Science in China Series D: Earth Sciences, 52(10): 1673–1678. CrossRefGoogle Scholar

Copyright information

© China University of Geosciences and Springer-Verlag GmbH Germany, part of Springer Nature 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.School of Life and Environmental Sciences (Melbourne Burwood Campus)Deakin UniversityBurwoodAustralia
  2. 2.State Key Laboratory of Biogeology and Environmental GeologyChina University of GeosciencesWuhanChina
  3. 3.Chengdu Center of China Geological SurveyChengduChina

Personalised recommendations