The Middle Triassic (Anisian) Otter Sandstone was laid down mostly by braided rivers in a desert environment and is now well exposed along the south-east Devon coast in south-west England, part of the ‘Jurassic Coast’ World Heritage Site. It yields uncommon and generally fragmentary fossils, principally of vertebrates, including fish, temnospondyl amphibians and reptiles such as rhynchosaurs, predatory archosaurs, and small superficially lizard-like forms. These provide important information about a freshwater and terrestrial ecosystem that marks recovery from the end-Permian mass extinction, but pre-dated the appearance of dinosaurs and mammals. The constantly eroding Otter Sandstone exposures continue to reveal new taxa (for example, freshwater sharks). Furthermore, microvertebrate material obtained by sieving bone-bearing levels has the potential to further expand the faunal list. Newly discovered associated and articulated vertebrate remains, including small tetrapods, improve knowledge of whole-body anatomy and facilitate systematic work. Invertebrate burrows and reptile footprints provide information on ecological interactions and detailed bed-by-bed collecting casts light on taphonomic processes and faunal changes over time.
- Trace fossils