Lagerstätte of the Week: Luoping Biota

: Luoping Biota
Where: Southern China
When: Middle Triassic
What: The Luoping Biota is a Middle Triassic, marine site that is an example of life bouncing back from the Permian Extinction. This fully-realized ecosystem has microbes, molluscs, arthropods, fish, and marine reptiles, interconnected in a complex food web. Ichthyosaurs represent one of the apex predators which marks the establishment of reptiles being the dominant marine predators of the Mesozoic. As of 2011, roughly 20,000 fossils have been found with over 90% of them being arthropods, predominantly of crustaceans. However, other non-marine fossils have been found like relatively complete conifer branches suggesting the coasts were covered in a coniferous forest with stems traveling a short distance before they eventually sank into the ocean.

Luoping Ichthyosaur. Image from Hu et al. 2011

Hu, Shi-xue, et al. “The Luoping biota: exceptional preservation, and new evidence on the Triassic recovery from end-Permian mass extinction.” Proceedings of the Royal Society B: Biological Sciences 278.1716 (2011): 2274-2282.