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A Triassic Lagerstätte from eastern North America


THE end of the Triassic period is pivotal in the evolution of modern ecosystems1. Despite this, the Triassic remains one of the poorest known periods in the evolutionary history of the terrestrial arthropods. Here we report on fossiliferous shales preserving a nearly complete marginal lacustrine community from the Virginia–North Carolina border that sheds considerable light on this critical interval. Three species of insect were previously described from this locality, but the full extent and significance of its diversity have only now been discovered: we report here the oldest definitive records for three orders of insect and numerous families and super families. Furthermore, in addition to new taxa, the flora is shown to contain an unusual diversity of forms, some of which have only been previously reported either from Europe or the Southern Hemisphere. The abundance of complete insects and the preservation of soft-part anatomy on some of the vertebrates elevates the site to one of the most significant Lagerstätte in the world.

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Fraser, N., Grimaldi, D., Olsen, P. et al. A Triassic Lagerstätte from eastern North America. Nature 380, 615–619 (1996).

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