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This chapter deals with the trace fossils, also called ichnofossils, preserved in
the lower Estancia La Costa Member of the Santa Cruz Formation (late Early
Miocene) along the Atlantic coast, between the Río Gallegos and
Río Coyle, Santa Cruz Province, Argentina. The succession is mostly
composed of fluvial deposits. Extensive overbank areas record trace fossils in a
variety of deposits such as floodplain water bodies and paleosols that developed
under variable climatic conditions. From bottom to top, it records a general
trend of paleosol development from humid to drier climatic conditions, with
waterlogged areas developed in the middle portion of the succession. Floodplain
water bodies record Taenidium barretti and
Palaeophycus tubularis which correspond
to a “pre-desiccation suite” of the Scoyenia ichnofacies that developed in soft substrates. Also,
root traces are preserved when the time between depositional events is long
enough to allow colonization by plants but not so much as to obliterate animal
traces. Integrated ichnology and sedimentology suggests that paleosols that
record abundant cf. Capayanichnus
vinchinensis, fine and haloed root traces, and the less common
occurrence of Taenidium barretti and
Planolites beverleyensis were
episodically waterlogged and are considered moderately drained. Other paleosols
that record abundant ferric root traces suggest that they were moderately
well-drained and developed under more humid climatic conditions. Similar
moderately well-drained paleosols record abundant calcareous rhizoconcretions
and a dwelling burrow attributed to a mammal. A third type of paleosol contains
cells of solitary digging bees (Celliforma
isp.) and ferric root traces, and is interpreted as being moderately
well-drained and developed under drier climatic conditions.