DICKINSARTELLA FAUNA FROM THE SAIWAN FORMATION (OMAN): A BIVALVE FAUNA TESTIFYING TO THE LATE SAKMARIAN (EARLY PERMIAN) CLIMATIC AMELIORATION ALONG THE NORTH-EASTERN GONDWANAN FRINGE.
The transitional faunas of the Permian Huqf succession of Oman make it one of the key-sections for the intercalibration of Early to Middle Permian biostratigraphical scales. The abundance of fossils improved the knowledge of some marine faunas which populated the North-Eastern Gondwanan fringe during times of climatic changes in the Permian. A Sterlitamakian (upper Sakmarian, Lower Permian) bivalve fauna from the Saiwan Formation in the Huqf area, informally named "Dickinsartella Fauna", is described in the present paper. The specimens examined were collected from the "Pachycyrtella Bed" (Auctorum), the basal bed of the Formation in its type locality. The Dickinsartella Fauna can be identified for the presence of the new genus Dickinsartella, which dominates the bivalve thanatocoenosis with D. pistacina sp. n. (type species). The bivalve fauna from the Pachycyrtella Bed includes the new species Stutchburia sangallii and Promytilus mazzolenii, and also Astartella obliqua Dickins, 1963, Nuculopsis cf. bangarraensis Dickins, 1963, ?Oriocrassatella sp., and indeterminable aviculopectinids. This fauna shows a low taxonomic diversity. Nevertheless, some species are represented by a high number of generally well-preserved specimens, i.e. some specimens of S. sangallii sp. n. and A. obliqua show part of the ligament. The good preservation of the shells permitted the microstructural analysis of D. pistacina sp. n. and S. sangallii sp. n. The microstructure of S. sangallii sp. n. supports the close phylogenetical link between modiomorphids and crassatelloids recognized by some previous authors.
The new genus Dickinsartella includes the more recent species belonging to the important Paleozoic Order Cyrtodontida Scarlato & Starobogatov, 1971. The discovery of Dickinsartella gen. n. and other taxa of the Pachycyrtella Bed, present also in the Sakmarian levels of the Carnarvon and Perth Basins in Western Australia, indicates a wider distribution of the Dickinsartella Fauna and confirms the correlation between Arabian and Australian series already remarked by previous authors. The "Dickinsartella fauna" is the first bivalve fauna testifying to the climatic amelioration gradually affecting the North-Eastern Gondwanan fringe at the end of the Early Permian glacial events. This pioneer fauna spread out, probably in a cool-temperate climate, on the substrate provided by the mid-Sakmarian (basal Sterlitamakian) transgression, connected with the final stages of the Gondwanan deglaciation and/or with initial sea-floor spreading in the Neotethys. In the present paper some remarks on the autecology of the new species from the "Pachycyrtella bed" are also discussed.
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