Walchian conifers (Walchia piniformis Sternberg, 1825) and peltasperms similar to Supaia thinnfeldioides White and cf. Supaia anomala White dominate floodplain deposits of a narrow stratigraphic interval of the middle Abo Formation, Lower Permian of central New Mexico. The plant fossils occur in thinly bedded units up to two meters thick, consisting of coarse siltstone to very fine sandstone with clay partings. Bedding is primarily tabular, thin, and bears rare ripple marks and trough cross beds. Bedding surfaces display mud cracks, raindrop imprints, horizontal and vertical burrows of invertebrates, and footprints of terrestrial vertebrates. These features indicate intermittent and generally unchannelized stream flow, with repeated exposure to air. Channels appear to have cannibalized one another on a slowly subsiding coastal plain. Conifers are dominant at three collecting sites and at three others Supaia dominates. Although each of these genera occurs in assemblages dominated by the other, there are no truly co-dominant assemblages. This pattern suggests alternative explanations. Landscapes could have consisted of a small-scale vegetational patchwork dominated almost monospecifically in any one patch, meaning that these plants could have coexisted across the landscape. On the other hand, conifer and supaioid dominance could have been temporally distinct, occurring during different episodes of sedimentation; although in the field there are no noticeable sedimentological differences between conifer-dominated and Supaia-dominated channel deposits, they may represent slightly different climatic regimes. The considerable morphological differences between conifers and Supaia suggest that the floristic patterns are not a taphonomic effect of the loss of a significant part of the original biodiversity. In general, the climate under which this vegetation developed appears to have been relatively warm and arid, based on the geology (pervasive red color [oxidation], calcrete in paleosols, and abundant mud cracks evidencing ephemeral flow in streams) and biology (low floristic diversity, xeromorphic plant physiognomies). ?? 2006 Elsevier B.V. All rights reserved.
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A low diversity, seasonal tropical landscape dominated by conifers and peltasperms: Early Permian Abo Formation, New Mexico