Insect trace fossils elucidate depositional environments and sedimentation at a dinosaur nesting site from the Cretaceous (Campanian) Two Medicine Formation of Montana
Freimuth, William J.
Varricchio, David J.
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We describe the diversity and abundance of insect (specifically hymenopterans and coleopterans) pupation structures in the Upper Cretaceous (Campanian) Two Medicine Formation at the Egg Mountain locality, western Montana, U.S.A., an important dinosaur nesting site. The study interval comprises a massive calcareous siltstone and indurated silty limestone horizons interpreted as the product of cumulative paleosols. A 7 m by 11 m area was quarried with a jackhammer at intervals of 12.5 cm thickness for a 1.5 m thick stratigraphic section. The ichnoassemblage comprises four morphotypes (small, medium, large, and wide) assigned to Fictovichnus sciuttoi, of which three represent wasp (hymenopteran) cocoons while the fourth (wide) type potentially was produced by a coleopteran. Medium and small F. sciuttoi are dominant while large and wide Fictovichnus are less common and absent in some sample intervals. Other probable insect traces include partial perforations in cocoons (Tombownichnus), isolated burrows, and an enigmatic hemispherical trace. Material is representative of a depauperate Celliforma ichnofacies. Pervasive cocoons and other traces throughout the sequence suggest persistent soil conditions suitable for insect nesting and pupation, and suggest an absence of sediment pulses of sufficient thickness to prohibit thorough colonization. Peaks in pupation chamber abundance may reflect episodes of reduced sedimentation rates otherwise unseen in the absence of primary bedding structures. Well-drained and friable soil conditions favorable for insect nesting also may help explain the abundance of dinosaur nests and other vertebrate nesting events in associated strata as well as the presence of small terrestrial forms.
Freimuth, William J., and David J. Varricchio. “Insect Trace Fossils Elucidate Depositional Environments and Sedimentation at a Dinosaur Nesting Site from the Cretaceous (Campanian) Two Medicine Formation of Montana.” Palaeogeography, Palaeoclimatology, Palaeoecology 534 (November 2019): 109262. doi:10.1016/j.palaeo.2019.109262.