Late Early Permian continental ichnofauna from Lake Kemp, north-central Texas, USA

Spencer G. Lucas, Sebastian Voigt, Allan J. Lerner, W. John Nelson

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Continental trace fossils of Early Permian age are well known in the western United States from Wolfcampian (~. Asselian to Artinskian) strata, but few examples are known from Leonardian (~. Kungurian) deposits. A substantial ichnofauna from strata of the lower part of the Clear Fork Formation at Lake Kemp, Baylor County, Texas, augments the meager North American record of Leonardian continental trace fossil assemblages. Ichnofossils at Lake Kemp occur in the informally-named Craddock dolomite member of the Clear Fork Formation, which is 12-15. m above the local base of the Clear Fork. The trace-bearing stratum is an up-to-0.3. m thick, laminated to flaser-bedded, dolomitic siltstone that also contains mud cracks, raindrop impressions, microbially induced mat structures, and some land-plant impressions. We interpret the Craddock dolomite member as the feather-edge of a marine transgressive carbonate deposit of an irregular coastline marked by shallow bays or estuaries on the eastern shelf of the Midland basin, and the trace-fossil-bearing stratum at Lake Kemp is an unchannelized flow deposit on a muddy coastal plain. The fossil site at Lake Kemp yields a low to moderately diverse fauna of invertebrate and vertebrate traces. A sparse invertebrate ichnofauna consists of arthropod feeding and locomotion traces assigned to Walpia cf. W. hermitensis White, 1929 and Diplichnites gouldi Gevers in Gevers et al., 1971. Tetrapod footprints are most common and assigned to Batrachichnus salamandroides (Geinitz, 1861), cf. Amphisauropus kablikae (Geinitz and Deichmüller, 1882), and Dromopus lacertoides (Geinitz, 1861), which represent small temnospondyl, seymouriamorph, and basal sauropsid trackmakers. Both the traces and sedimentary features of the fossil horizon indicate a freshwater setting at the time of track formation, and the trace assemblage represents the Scoyenia ichnofacies and the Batrachichnus ichnofacies in an overbank environment with sheet flooding and shallow ephemeral pools on an extensive coastal plain. The Lake Kemp tetrapod track assemblage is characteristic of the global Early Permian tetrapod ichnofauna found in red beds, which is dominated by a handful of ichnogenera that include Batrachichnus, Limnopus, Amphisauropus, Dromopus, Varanopus, Hyloidichnus, Ichniotherium and Dimetropus, which are the tracks of temnospondyls, seymouriamorphs, diadectomorphs, "pelycosaurs", "captorhinomorphs", and araeoscelids. The Lake Kemp tracks also further document the continuity of the ichnogenera Batrachichnus, Amphisauropus and Dromopus from Wolfcampian into Leonardian time and thus support the concept that Wolfcampian and Leonardian red-bed tetrapod footprints represent a single biostratigraphic assemblage.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)395-404
Number of pages10
JournalPalaeogeography, Palaeoclimatology, Palaeoecology
Issue number3-4
StatePublished - Aug 1 2011


  • ISGS
  • Trace fossils
  • Paleoecology
  • North America
  • Scoyenia ichnofacies
  • Biostratigraphy

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Earth-Surface Processes
  • Ecology, Evolution, Behavior and Systematics
  • Oceanography
  • Palaeontology


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