Antarctic Science

Earth Sciences

Short Note: Late Miocene marine trace fossils from James Ross Island

Anna E. Nelsona1 c1, John L. Smelliea1, Mark Williamsa2 and Jan Zalasiewicza2

a1 British Antarctic Survey, NERC, High Cross, Madingley Road, Cambridge CB3 0ET, UK

a2 Department of Geology, University of Leicester, University Road, Leicester LE1 7RH, UK

Williams et al. (2006) reported asterozoans preserved in Late Miocene volcanic tuffs of the James Ross Island Volcanic Group. The material, from the north-west of James Ross Island at 64°01.9′S 58°20.07′W, was sourced from the newly named Asterozoan Buttress locality, and represented reconnaissance collecting. The volcaniclastic sediments in which the fossils are found are fine- to medium-grained volcanic sandstones with planar, laterally continuous beds 0.5–8 cm thick containing decimetre-scale ripple cross-lamination. In the absence of part and counterpart rock slabs, Williams et al. (2006) hypothesised that the fossils represented the external moulds of starfish or brittlestars pinioned by rapid sedimentation of volcanic tuffs. They noted that these tuffs represented a potential untapped source of fossil material for interpreting Neogene marine shelf environments on the northern Antarctic Peninsula. New fossil material collected at Asterozoan Buttress in February 2007 (by Anna Nelson) includes part and counterpart rock slabs, and demonstrates that the asterozoans are resting traces of animals, referable to the ichnogenus Asteriacites, and not external moulds of entombed animals (Fig. 1a & d). We reinterpret the ‘detached’ arm and ‘current-entrainment’ specimens of Williams et al. (2006, fig. 5c & d) as representing a possible scull mark and movement of the asterozoan across the sediment surface respectively (see Bell 2004, text-fig. 11 for comparison).

(Received April 01 2008)

(Accepted April 24 2008)