Coincidence of photic zone euxinia and impoverishment of arthropods in the aftermath of the Frasnian-Famennian biotic crisis
The lowermost Famennian deposits of the Kowala quarry (Holy Cross Mountains, Poland) are becoming famous for their rich fossil content such as their abundant phosphatized arthropod remains (mostly thylacocephalans). Here, for the first time, palaeontological and geochemical data were integrated to document abundance and diversity patterns in the context of palaeoenvironmental changes. During deposition, the generally oxic to suboxic conditions were interrupted at least twice by the onset of photic zone euxinia (PZE). Previously, PZE was considered as essential in preserving phosphatised fossils from, e.g., the famous Gogo Formation, Australia. Here, we show, however, that during PZE, the abundance of arthropods drastically dropped. The phosphorous content during PZE was also very low in comparison to that from oxic-suboxic intervals where arthropods are the most abundant. As phosphorous is essential for phosphatisation but also tends to flux off the sediment during bottom water anoxia, we propose that the PZE in such a case does not promote the fossilisation of the arthropods but instead leads to their impoverishment and non-preservation. Thus, the PZE conditions with anoxic bottom waters cannot be presumed as universal for exceptional fossil preservation by phosphatisation, and caution must be paid when interpreting the fossil abundance on the background of redox conditions.