Trace fossils that record animal and plant activity are described for the first time from the Middle Siwalik, Neogene deposits of Darjeeling Himalaya. Sedimentary facies association attests to a channel–interchannel floodplain fluviatile setting. The intimate association of the burrows with phytoliths, rhizoliths, leaf compressions and coal lenses suggest that the tracemakers dominated a floodplain habitat. Point bar deposits host a low diversity Planolites-Naktodemasis-Macanopsis-Cylindricum equilibrium ichnocoenosis in the heterolithic fine sandstone-siltstone-shale facies that alternates with dense, monospecific colonization of Planolites as opportunistic pioneers relocating under stressed condition. Interlayered floodplain deposits in the fluvial successions preserve enigmatic large diameter, vertical tubes within thin to thick-bedded, dark silty shale facies. These tubes bear mixed characters assignable to both crayfish burrows and large-diameter rhizoliths. Further work on these tubes is necessary to make more accurate interpretations of those structures. Shallow to moderate burrow depths; intermittent, short-lived colonization events and preservation of rhizoliths and rhizohalos under fluctuating moisture content indicate short-term fluctuations of a relatively high water table (close to the paleosurface) in an imperfectly drained proximal floodplain setting. Ichnotaxa distribution and their inferred ethology provide significant faunal data that may put constraints on the reconstruction of Middle Siwalik depositional environment.
Volume 131, 2022
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