Taphonomy of f sh concentrations from the Upper Jurassic Solnhofen Plattenkalk of Southern Germany

Journal article

Publication Details

Author(s): Pan Y, Fürsich F, Chellouche P, Hu L
Journal: Neues Jahrbuch für Geologie und Paläontologie-Abhandlungen
Publication year: 2019
Volume: 292
Journal issue: 1
Pages range: 73-92
ISSN: 0077-7749
eISSN: 2363-717X


The density of vertebrate fossils on bedding planes is generally very low in the Upper Jurassic plattenkalks forming the Solnhofen fossil Lagerstatte. There are, however, a few bedding planes where large concentrations of the small fis Leptolepides sprattiformis (BLAINVILLE, 1818) occur. The aim of this paper is to analyse and interpret these f sh concentrations from a taphonomic point of view. For this purpose, the taphonomic features of L. sprattiformis concentrations on three large slabs were semi-quantitatively analysed. The concentrations of individuals on bedding planes are explained as recording local mass mortality events caused by tropical storms that, for short intervals, disrupted the pycnocline which separated hypersaline, oxygen-poor to anoxic bottom waters from normal marine surface waters in the Plattenkalk basins. Mass mortality is supported by tetany features such as gaping jaws, hyperextended branchiostegal rays, and splayed f ns, which occur in the majority of the specimens. The generally excellent preservation of the f sh resulted from lack of postmortem f oatation, rapid burial and/or overgrowth by microbial f lms, and quick re-establishment of the pycnocline with inhospitable conditions on the basin floo. The post-mortem concave-arching of the backbones and various displacements of the vertebral column were most likely caused by varying decay resistance of soft tissues and the pressure of decay gases in the body cavities, respectively. The taphonomic analysis of f sh concentrations can provide very detailed palaeoenvironmental information and serves as an independent line of evidence for palaeoenvironmental reconstructions that complements geochemical and sedimentary data.

FAU Authors / FAU Editors

Fürsich, Franz Prof. Dr.
Lehrstuhl für Paläontologie

External institutions with authors

Chinese Academy of Sciences (CAS) / 中国科学院
Christian-Albrechts-Universität zu Kiel

How to cite

Pan, Y., Fürsich, F., Chellouche, P., & Hu, L. (2019). Taphonomy of f sh concentrations from the Upper Jurassic Solnhofen Plattenkalk of Southern Germany. Neues Jahrbuch für Geologie und Paläontologie-Abhandlungen, 292(1), 73-92. https://dx.doi.org/10.1127/njgpa/2019/0809

Pan, Yanhong, et al. "Taphonomy of f sh concentrations from the Upper Jurassic Solnhofen Plattenkalk of Southern Germany." Neues Jahrbuch für Geologie und Paläontologie-Abhandlungen 292.1 (2019): 73-92.


Last updated on 2019-03-05 at 17:08