Jurassic vertebrate bromalites of the western United States in the context of the global record

Adrian P. HUNT, Spencer G. LUKAS


The bromalite record of the western United States is quite limited, especially in contrast to the Triassic and Cretaceous records of the same region. Indeed, there are only a handful of well documented vertebrate bromalites from the Jurassic strata of the western USA, including: (1) coprolites from the nonmarine Early Jurassic Glen Canyon Group; (2) consumulites and evisceralites from the Middle Jurassic Todilto and Sundance formations; and (3) consumulites, putative coprolites and pseudobromalites from the nonmarine Upper Jurassic Morrison Formation. Early Jurassic red beds are notably less fossiliferous than those of the Triassic (e.g., contrast the fossil record of the Chinle and Glen Canyon groups). The Middle Jurassic of the region includes several eolianites and sabkha-like deposits representing environments that preserve few bromalites. The Upper Jurassic Morrison Formation contains abundant vertebrate body fossils and many tracks but very few bromalites in contrast to many broadly similar fluvial deposits of Triassic and Cretaceous age in the same region. The global bromalite record also appears to be depauperate in the Jurassic, with a few exceptions such as marine shales and lithographic limestones in Europe (e.g., Lower Jurassic of England, Upper Jurassic Solnhofen Limestone of Bavaria). This relative lack of a global Jurassic bromalite record may in part be more a result of a lack of collection and study. However, the relative lack of nonmarine bromalites is clearly influenced by high sea levels in the Early Jurassic, a paucity of Middle Jurassic nonmarine vertebrate-bearing units and a lack, or lack of recognition of, bromalites in major Upper Jurassic nonmarine vertebrate faunas (e.g., China, Tanzania, Portugal, etc.). In the Western United States there is clearly a need for more detailed examination of known specimens (e.g., putative Morrison coprolites) and a focus on collecting more examples.


bromalite; coprolite; consumulite; evisceralite; Jurassic; Morrison Formation; Sundance Formation; western USA

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