Published online by Cambridge University Press: 09 May 2016
The distribution of all recognized biotic elements was mapped on five extensive surfaces of the Middle Triassic Guanling Formation exposed in quarries near Luoping, Yunnan Province, China. A 0.5 m2 grid was overlain on the surfaces, and all recognizable fossils were located by placing them in one of nine quadrants within the grid. A total of 240 m2 were mapped, and each specimen observed was recorded as one of 15 categories, subsequently grouped as pelagic, benthic, and other (bone, trace fossils, algae). The pelagic component, fish, thylacocephalans, and mysidaceans, dominated all layers. The benthic component was sparse on all surfaces; epifaunal, vagrant organisms were the dominant forms, suggesting that the substrate was unsuitable for infaunal and sessile epifaunal organisms. Shrimp and bivalves dominated the benthic organisms. Two of the surfaces were overwhelmingly dominated by mysidaceans, and one was dominated by thylacocephalans, suggesting that their remains documented periodic mass kills of swarming, pelagic organisms. Scanning electron microscope analysis of the bedding surfaces revealed nothing remarkable about the sediment, suggesting that the cause of death of the organisms was likely due to an event within the water column, possibly an algae bloom, not recorded in the sediment record.