Insects and fish in one buried deposit

13 Jan 2022

William sent in the link to ...  paleontologists have unearthed around 2000 fossils in SER Australia - insects, fish, spiders, and plants [leaves and broken stems]. They existed during an era of prehistoric rainforest, it is claimed, just 15 million years ago. The fossils are remarkably well preserved.One would think it involved instantaneous burial in silt and mud. Funnily enough, the paleontologists were looking for fossils from the Jurassic period, in the hills and flats of SE Australia. However, they were approached by a local farmer who said he had found fossils in rocks on his land, not far from where their research had targeted. He had stacked up the rocks on the edge of one of his fields, impressed by them but without a means of knowing what it meant, or how old they might be. The paleontologists were astounded by to find rare insects entrenched in rocks. How did that come about - especially as it included their soft parts [or some of them]. In order to fossilise these creatures it must have happened very rapidly. How on earth could you fossilise the soft parts of insects and fish in a uniformitarian deposit? Leaves and insects such as spiders, wasps, cicadas, flies, as well as fish and flowers, even the feathers of a lost bird. They were preserved in remarkable detail in rocks. The fish, it was found, had their last meals in their stomachs. How does that happen if not immediate burial and preservation? Grains of pollen were also tickled out of the rocks, from the last plant insects had visited. The eyes and muscles of the insects were preserved, intact.

The research is published in the January edition of Science Advances and the fossils are dated to the Miocene era. How it all came to be in a uniformitarian manner is described as due to an iron rich water flowing into an oxbow lake, trapping thousands of small creatures. Another surprising feature that is hypothesized is that although the creatures belong to a rainforest environment, this must have been surrounded by an arid zone as some of the pollen grains come from arid region plants. Dies this imply an input of water from further afield - miles away? We don't know but some more information on the fish might be interesting - marine or freshwater.

The story and link comes with some nice images of the fossils in rocks.