After a diversity peak during the Late Triassic, corals were severely affected by the end-Triassic extinction. The study of their recovery is fundamental for a better understanding of the ecological rearrangement undergone by Early Jurassic marine invertebrate faunas. In this contribution we analyze the morphologic recovery shown by scleractinians in southern Mendoza Province, which is the only place in the Neuquén Basin with marine outcrops spanning the Triassic/Jurassic boundary. A two-stage recovery pattern was recognized. During the first stage (Hettangian—Sinemurian) only solitary corals, most of them discoidal, could be found. After a hiatus encompassing the latest Early Sinemurian and the Late Sinemurian, the second stage (Pliensbachian) developed. A sharp increase in morphological diversity of solitary corals is then recorded, with discoidal, cupolate, patellate, turbinate, trochoid/turbinate, trochoid/ceratoid and maybe cylindrical morphologies. Additionally, colonial forms with low degree of corallite integration (phaceloid and cerioid colonies) appeared in the basin. The diversification trend hereby described provides useful insight regarding the scleractinian recovery after the end-Triassic mass extinction event within southern basins of South America. Furthermore, this recovery pattern is comparable with the one recognized for other regions (Chile, western North America, central Asia) yet it differs from that observed in some European basins. The trend outlined herein for Early Jurassic corals from the Neuquén Basin may reflect a large-scale phenomenon and/or the action of local adverse conditions (such as fluvial influence), which is open to further testing.
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Vol. 54 • No. 1