Upper Carboniferous tidal rhythmites of the Tonganoxie Sandstone Member (Stranger Formation) at Buildex Quarry, eastern Kansas, USA, host a relatively diverse arthropod-dominated ichnofauna. Bilaterally symmetrical traces displaying unique anterior and posterior sets of morphological features are well represented within the assemblage. A new ichnogenus, Tonganoxichnus, is proposed for these traces. T. buildexensis, the type ichnospecies, has an anterior region characterized by the presence of a frontal pair of maxillary palp impressions, followed by a head impression and three pairs of conspicuous thoracic appendage imprints symmetrically opposite along a median axis. The posterior region commonly exhibits numerous delicate chevron-like markings, recording the abdominal appendages, and a thin, straight, terminal extension. T. buildexensis is interpreted as a resting trace. A second ichnospecies, T. ottawensis, is characterized by a fan-like arrangement of mostly bifid scratch marks at the anterior area that records the head- and thoracic-appendage backstrokes against the substrate. The posterior area shows chevron-like markings or small subcircular impressions that record the abdominal appendages of the animal, also ending in a thin, straight, terminal extension. Specimens display lateral repetition, and are commonly grouped into twos or threes with a fix point at the posteriormost tail-like structure. T. ottawensis is interpreted as a jumping structure, probably in connection with feeding purposes. The two ichnospecies occur in close association, and share sufficient morphologic features to support the same type of arthropod producer. T. buildexensis closely mimics the ventral anatomy of the tracemaker, whereas T. ottawensis records the jumping abilities of the animal providing significant ethologic and paleoecologic information. The presence of well-differentiated cephalic, thoracic, and abdominal features, particularly in T. buildexensis, resembles the diagnostic tagmosis and segmentation of insects. Detailed analysis of trace morphology and comparison with described Paleozoic insect fossils and extant related forms suggest a monuran as the most likely tracemaker.
Additional publication details
Tonganoxichnus, a new insect trace from the Upper Carboniferous of eastern Kansas