|Publication Type:||Conference Paper|
|Year of Publication:||2016|
|Authors:||N. C. Fraser|
|Conference Name:||The 7th International Conference on Fossil Insects, Arthropods and Amber|
|Publisher:||Siri Scientific Press|
|Conference Location:||National Museum of Scotland, Edinburgh|
The Virginia Solite Quarry, situated in the Dan River basin of the Newark Supergroup, preserves one of the few fossil assemblages that bears intact Triassic insects. This, together with the diverse flora and two very specialised tetrapods, makes it one of the most significant Triassic localities anywhere in the world. The insects are for the most part completely articulated and even some of the smallest specimens preserve exquisite anatomical detail such as microtrichiae. While this entomofauna is very diverse, it is especially notable for containing representatives of many modern orders and families, including four extant families of Diptera, the oldest belostomatid water bugs and the oldest thysanopteran (sensu stricto). Plant macrofossils lack cuticle as a result of the high thermal maturity of the sediments, yet the assemblage is still very diverse with bennettitaleans, sphenophytes, ginkgophytes, cheirolepidaceous conifers and dipteridaceous ferns among the more common elements. The floral assemblage also contains the intriguing wind dispersed seed, Edenia, and Fraxinopsis, a form more normally associated with Gondwanan localities. The most abundant tetrapods represent the Protorosauria, an archaic lineage comprising mostly marine, and often rather bizarrely long-necked taxa that did not survive beyond the Triassic–Jurassic boundary. There is considerable debate regarding the depositional environment, but evidence is presented to support deposition under relatively shallow conditions in a saline/alkaline lake.