Changes in size and growth rate of "Lilliput'' animals in the earliest Triassic

B. Metcalfe, R.J. Twitchett, N. Price-Lloyd

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    Marine invertebrate taxa that survived the late Permian (latest Changhsingian) mass extinction event are all much smaller than they were prior to the event, an example of the Lilliput effect. New taxa that first appeared in the immediate extinction aftermath are also small compared to their size in younger strata. The Lilliput effect is a temporary phenomenon, with most surviving taxa returning to pre-extinction size in the first two conodont zones of the Triassic. In this study, the growth rates, of some of the Early Triassic Lilliput animals, estimated by growth-line analysis, were compared from different stratigraphic levels to determine how this variable fluctuated as body size returned to pre-extinction values after the event. Specimens were collected from the Mazzin and Siusi members of the Werfen Formation in northern Italy, from facies deposited in a tropical, mixed siliciclastic-carbonate ramp setting. Measurements of the bivalves Unionites and Claraia, the gastropod Bellerophon and the brachiopod '. Lingula' were made in the field, with subsequent growth-line analysis conducted on well-preserved specimens of 'Lingula'. Specimens collected from the basal Triassic Mazzin Member were smaller than those from the younger Siusi Member. Growth-line analysis indicates that the smaller Mazzin Member specimens had a greater number of more closely spaced growth lines than the larger Siusi Member specimens. The small, 'Lilliput' animals living in the immediate aftermath of the Late Permian event therefore suffered more interruptions to growth and had overall slower growth rates than larger individuals living in later recovery times. Frequent interruptions to growth and an overall slower growth rate in specimens from the Hindeodus parvus and Isarcicella isarcica zones of the Mazzin Member (lower Induan) reflects suboptimal environmental conditions, such as the frequency or severity of low-oxygen episodes, temperature extremes, and/or disruptions to primary productivity. © 2010 Elsevier B.V.
    Original languageEnglish
    JournalPalaeogeography, Palaeoclimatology, Palaeoecology
    Publication statusPublished - 2010


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