The age for the fossil-bearing Tabbowa beds in Sri Lanka

Tuesday, 16 December 2014
Su-chin Chang, Sena Dassanayake and Jun Wang, University of Hong Kong, Hong Kong, Hong Kong
Well-preserved terrestrial fossils, mainly including conifers, cycads and ferns, were discovered from the Tabbowa beds in northwestern Sri Lanka. The high diversity and abundance of plants and insects from these Jurassic sediments provide a unique window to understand floral evolution and plant-insect co-evolution in the Mesozoic. For example, unearthed fossils from the Tabbowa beds indicate that leaf feeding and dwelling insects played a significant role in the Jurassic ecosystem. For another example, feeding and chewing marks on leaves allow studying insect behavior and paleo-ecology. Additionally, the recent discoveries of Otozamites latiphyllus and Otozamites tabbowensis from these sediments provide evidence that Bennettitales, an extinct order of seed plants, widely spread in the Gondwana during the Jurassic period. Although most fossils are yet to be well studied, and only few of the fossil occurrences have been published in western journals, plant fossils from the Tabbowa beds have great potential for substantially increasing our knowledge of Jurassic terrestrial ecosystems. The fossil-bearing Tabbowa beds are mainly composed of sandstone, siltstone, and mudstone with occasional thin bands of nodular limestone. Until now, radio-isotopic age determinations for the fossil-rich Tabbowa beds are lacking. In this study, we investigate the geological and geochronological setting of this area by dating detrital zircons from the Tabbowa beds. The age data will allow testing several hypotheses regarding the plant evolution, the basin development of this region.