Sunday, August 10, 2014


B.1.1. 'Crystalline Basement'

Crystalline schists is a general term used by R. W. van Bemmelen (1949) which include other lithologies such as gneiss, phylite, slate and marble (Sartono, 1979). This unit is widely distributed in the Indonesian Archipelago, but there is much diversity of opinion as to their age. The crystalline schists certainly do not belong to a distinct geological epoch, neither are they of an archaic age as has been supposed by many earlier authors. Sedimentary deposits of various ages can be altered into crystalline schists by regional metamorphism, aided by contingent processes of diffusion of constituents. Often a succession of alterations can be distinguished under the microscope, giving them a polymetamorphic appearance and enabling us to distinguish between several types of schists (viz. crystalline schists and phyllites) (edited from van Bemmelen, 1970).

In some areas the transition of fossil-bearing strata made possible a direct age determination, while in other areas only the upper limit is fixed by the age of the first transgressive formation. There are also indications of different metamorphic processes / polymetamorphism.

Hereunder some instances are mentioned:

The crystalline schists in South Sumatra (Geological Maps of South Sumatra Nos. I, 2, 4 and 5, scale I : 200,000) and North Sumatra (VAN BEMMELEN, 1932 d) are presumably parts of an old basement complex of pre-mesozoic age. Mesozoic sediments of Sumatra in many localities show a phyllitic facies. In the Islands West of Sumatra exposures of schistose pre-tertiary rocks are known. TERPSTRA (1932) mentions phyllites and amphibolites.from Sipura, and at the West coast of Nias crystalline schists crop out at the base of the Paleogene near Sumasuma.

The schistose and phylitic formations of the smaller islands on the Sunda Shelf are generally of young paleozoic and upper triassic age (VAN BEMMELEN, 1940 d). Crystalline schists of West and Central Borneo are known as Schwaner Block, named after Carl Schwaner. This block is older than Upper Triassic (ZEYLMANS VAN EMMICHOVEN, 1939, p. 21) and partly also older than the Permo-Carboniferous (ZEYLMANS v. E., 1939, pp. 56-58); but also younger formations may have a schistose facies, e.g. the Eocene has obtained in some belts a phyllitic character (TER BRUGGEN, 1935). ZEYLMANS VAN EMMICHOVEN published in 1940 a study, in which he described the schists and gneisses of the Schwaner Mts in Central Borneo, which are considered to be older than the Permo-Carboniferous. The crystalline schists of the Meratus Mountains in SE- Borneo are older than the Alino Formation (? Jurassic acc. to KOOLHOVEN, 1935) which contains detrital matter of the schists.

The polymetamorphic crystalline schists of Sulawesi are older than the Mesozoic or Young Paleozoic (BROUWER, 1941, p. 257-258), but there are also phyllites of mesozoic and eocene age (Tinombo Formation, ? Pompangeo Formation, Maroro Formation). In VAN BEMMELEN, 1949, contributions to the petrology of the crystalline schists of central Sulawesi were made by WILLEMS (1937), EGELER (1946, 1948) and DE ROEVER (1947). In Southeast Celebes and Buton BOTHE (1927) distinguishes a metamorphic (phyllitic) facies of the Mesozoic (Kendari facies) from a less or non-metamorphic facies (Buton facies). In the Northern Moluccas, isolated outcrops of crystalline schists are found on Obi (BROUWER, 1924a, p. 47) and on Bacan (Sibella Mts), which might be metamorphic paleozoic rocks, while in the Sula Islands (BROUWER, 1921 b, 1926) their age could be fixed as pre-Liassic.

Banda Arc
In the outer arc of the Southern Moluccas, crystalline schists are widely exposed. In Seram distinction can be made between phyllites which are pre-upper triassic (presumably Young Paleozoic) and older polymetamorphic crystalline schists (VALK, 1945 and, GERMERAAD, 1946). In Leti, transition from epimetamorphic schists to phyllitic rocks with intercalations of permian crinoidal limestones are found (MOLENGRAAFF, 1915). In Timor, crystalline schists occur in an overthrust complex of rocks, associated with ophiolites. These schists are at least pre-young Mesozoic, and partly pre-Permian (BROUWER, 1942 b, p. 364).

In Java, crystalline schists have been found in the Loh Ulo region where they are partly cretaceous and partly older (HARLOFF, 1929, 1933), and in the Ciletuh area, where their age is uncertain (at least pre-Eocene).

In New Guinea and the islands off its North coast, crystalline schists and phyllites are found in the pre-tertiary basement complex, but there is little information on their composition and age (The oldest fossil-bearing strata of the Central Mountains are Silurian).

In the Philippines, no old crystalline schists are definitively known, the oldest formation being, presumably, young Mesozoic (Baruyen cherts and shales).

The oldest pre-young paleozoic and presumably more or less autochthonous outcrops of crystalline schists are found in the central Sunda Land (West and Central Borneo and Lampung Districts of South Sumatra). The crystalline schists in the circum-Sunda Mountain System forms parts of over-thrust complexes and are partly pre-young Paleozoic, partly Young Paleozoic, Mesozoic, and even Eocene. The petrography and facies of these various schists formations will be discussed in the chapter on the regional geology.

B.1.2. Silurian
Hallysites wallichi REED is the oldest of the fossils found to date in the Indian Archipelago (VAN BEMMELEN, 1949). It occurs in limestone boulders in the Snow Mountain Range of New Guinea and has been described by TEICHERT (1928) and MUSPER (1938). This fossil points to Upper Silurian and it represents the oldest fossil-bearing strata in the circum-Australian Mountain System.

B.1.3. Devonian
The oldest fossil-bearing strata of the Sunda area (i.e. the Asiatic part of the archipelago) have a lower-Devonian age. This has been stated by M. G. RUTTEN (1940, 1947), who found Clathrodiction d. spatiosum BOEHNKE and Heliolites porosus OLDFUSS in the "Danau Formation" of East Central Borneo (Telen area). SUGIAMAN and ANDRIA (1998) have revisited and analyzed the fossils from this area. This map shows a sketch of the location map of their mapping project.

In the Central Ranges of Papua the Silurian is succeeded by Devonian strata. The Devonian fossils have been described by MARTIN (1911), FEUILLETAU DE BRUYN (1921), STEHN (1927), and TEICHERT (1928) in the upper part of the Modio Limestone Formation. The result of reset age of zircon fission-track (ZFT) showing age of 650±63 Ma (Quarles van Ufford, 1996). OLIVER et al, 1995 found Late Devonian (Frtasnian) corals in the Modio Limestone.

The Modio Formation is interpreted as a transgressive sequence deposited from tidal to marine shelf. The upper contact with Aiduna Formation is not well exposed and is interpreted to be disconformable (UFFORD, 1996).

B.1.4. Permo-Carboniferous
Much more is know about the distribution of permo-carboniferous rocks. Characteristic fossil faunas and floras have been found in several islands. It is not always possible to separate with certainty the Permian from the Carboniferous and, therefore, often the name "Permo-Carboniferous" is used in the literature. In the western part of the Archipelago (Malaysian Peninsula, Sumatra and Borneo), carboniferous, permo-carboniferous, and permian fossils have been found. VON L6czy (1934) and VON KUTASSY (1934) presume the presence of Young Paleozoic in the East arm of Celebes (Tokala Mts); but HETZEL (1935, p. 30) remarks that VON KUTASSY'S plate, illustrating the concerning fossils, is too indistinct to convince the reader of the correctness of the determinations. In the outer arc of the eastern part of the Sunda Mountain System, the islands of Timor, Savu, Roti, Leti, Luang, Babar are reknown for their rich permian fauna, especially the former. From the Snow Mountain Range of New Guinea, upper- carboniferous and permian fossils have been described. For a summary of the above mentioned occurrences we may refer to BROUWER (1931, pp. 553-563) and UMBGROVE (1935 a, pp. 125-128). The fossils come from neritic and littoral sediments. Most probably in young paleozoic time some islands or larger land areas lay scattered in a shallow sea, which submerged at that time the East Indian region. Only in the Permian of West Borneo there are indications (radiolarian cherts and ophiolites in MOLENGRAAFF'S Danau Formation), for the presence of a deep-sea trench. In the following paragraph are quoted some recent advances of our knowledge on the carboniferous flora in New Guinea and of the Permo-Carboniferous in West Borneo. For the Permian of Timor see under Mesozoic. For further information on the occurrences of young-paleozoic strata in Sumatra and Malaya, the reader is referred to the regional geological descriptions.


An important contribution to our knowledge of the distribution of the Glossopteris-flora was recently given by JONGMANS (1940, 1941).

The Glossopteris-flora of the Southern hemisphere is found between India and Australia (where it has been known for considerable time). A former report of its occurrence in British North Borneo proved to be erroneous,

The flora of the Carboniferous of the Northern hernisphere (Europe, Asia, North America) can be distinguished jnto two groups: the Eurameric Flora (North America, '~'urope, western Asia) and the Cathaysia Flora (China and Korea). The difference between these two does not develop before the younger Carboniferous. It does not exist up till Westphalian D, but becomes apparent in Westphalian E and especially in the "Rotliegendes". The Djambi Flora (Sumatra) corresponds with the Cathaysia group in many respects, but the European character of this Djambi Flora is more pronounced than that of the typical Cathaysia Flora because it belongs to Westphalian E thus being older than the typical development of the latter. Also in the Malay Peninsula and Borneo, floras with a European character are known. Mixtures of the Eurameric Flora with the Glossopteris Flora of the southern hemi- sphere have been found in North Africa, Brasil and Central Africa. Up till 1940 no mixing of the Cathaysia with the Glossopteris Flora. was known; but now this has been demonstrated by JONGMANS for material from the southern slope of the Snow Mountain Range of New Guinea. Here have been 'found, Vertebraria (a typical element of the Glossopteris Flora) and Pecopteris- and Taeniopteris species (belonging to the Cathaysia Flora); the age is probably Westphalian E due to the presence of some Euramerian elements. This proves that also the Cathaysia Flora existed on the southern side of the Tethys where it could mix with the Glossopteris Flora of the Gondwana Land. During the younger Carboniferous the western part of the Archipelago had land connections with East Asia (China) and the eastern part with Australia.

JONGMANs(1941) also described some recent finds of up per- carboniferous plants (Westphalian D-E) from Borneo.

KEYZER (1941), summarized our knowledge of the fossiliferous Paleozoic in the Snow Mountain Range of New Guinea as follows:

Permian: Gray marly sandstones with coral limestones containing: Lonsdaleia fliegeli (ZWIERZYCKI); limestone with? Productus (HUBRECHT); ? Bryozoa-limestones (TEI- CHERT).

Upper-Carboniferous: dark shales with a Cathaysia Flora (JONGMANS); dark limestones with Martinia sp., Subulites sp., etc.; coarse micaceous calcareous sandstone with Chonetes sp., Proetus sp. (TEICHERT). South of the Carstensz summits a complex of conglomeratic, sandy and clayey rocks with Brachiopoda (Dozy). Devonian.

Upper-Devonian: Brown, beige, and white sandstones with Spirifer (Ado/jia), Retzia sp., Wi/sonia sp., Goniophora sp., etc. (FEUILLETAU DE BRUYN, TEICHERT).

Middle- (and? Lower-) Devonian: Gray, fine calcareous limestones with Favosites reticulatus (DE BLv.), Fav. sp. GERTH 1927, Cystiphyllum sp., Cyathophyllum douvillei FRECH, and Brachiopoda; dark gray sandy limestones with Heliolithes barrandei PEN.; Favosites sp. GERTH 1927, and Cystiphyllum, Silurian.

Upper-Silurian: Green limestones with Hallysites wallichi REED (TEICHERT, MUSPER).

The thickness of these paleozoic deposits in the geosyncline of the Snow Mountain Range is prob- ably considerable. In the section of the southern slope of the Carstensz summits drawn by Dozy (1939), the paleozoic strata have a thickness of 1500 m, presumably only representing a part of the Young Paleozoic.

According to ZEYLMANS VAN EMMICHOVEN (1938, p. 37), the Permo-Carboniferous of West and Central Borneo occurs in a volcanic and a non- volcanic facies:

"The normal sedimentary facies is especially charac- terized by frequent occurrence of siliceous rocks (chert, siliceous slate, jasper and jasperoid), Non-silicified rocks are phyllites, slates, light coloured dense clay stones, marls and limestones. The cherts may have originated by a later intensive silicification of clay shales, which are locally coaly limestones and volcanic rocks. The original rocks of the Permo-Carboniferous were predominantly clays (locally with coal beds, elsewhere with many plant remains), fine granular clay-sandstones, and subordinate limestones. No primary siliceous rocks were deposited, as was assumed by MOLENGRAAFF (1900) for the Danau Formation, at least not in the greater part of this area (Sanggau and the adjacent part of Sarawak). Rather striking is the absence of coarser clastic sediments; only very sporadically detrital material of schists were encountered. The permo-carboniferous age is proved in various places by Fusulinidae, found by KREKELER (1932, 1933), determined by ZEYLMANS V. E. and confirmed by TAN SIN HOK, in limestones, marbles, jasperoids and combust- ible clay shales, silicified into cherts. Furthermore plants, determined by JONGMANS as quite probable Calamites, possibly from the group of leioderma, and Pecopteris from the group of arborescens. Only the latter fossil plant enables a more accurate determination of the age, namely youngest Upper Carboniferous. . The volcanic facies of the Permo-Carboniferous consists of basic effusiva and ejectamenta. They are nearly always intensively decomposed and altered 1). These rocks are completely identic to the igneous rocks of the Pulu Melaju Zone of MOLENGRAAFF'S Danau Formation. These volcanic complexes have in numerous places supplied their detritus to upper-triassic deposits, which proves their pre-upper- triassic age. Moreover, in some places, their transition into and association with the permo-carboniferous cherts is quite probable. Therefore, their permo-carboniferous age can hardly be doubted.

B.2. Paleozoic Faunas and Floras
According to J. T.. van Gorsel (2014), An Introduction to Paleozoic faunas and floras of Indonesia, Biostratigraphy of Southeast Asia - Part 3, Berita Sedimentologi #30.

Studies of Paleozoic and Mesozoic faunas and floras are not just of historic interest, but are essential for unraveling the early history of Indonesia. Such fossils are often the only tool for age control, which is fundamental to all regional geological studies, or provide a 'reality check' for radiometric and other age dating tools. They also provide local paleoenvironment and regional paleoclimate information, thus constraining depositional settings and paleolatitudinal position. This together with paleobiogeographic patterns of faunal/floral similarities between tectonic blocks or endemism further help constrain plate tectonic reconstructions.

Many of the genus and species names used in historic literature on Indonesian fossils are outdated. In this paper we still use some of these original names, but recognize that these may not be in agreement with the latest taxonomic concepts and classifications. It is, however, important to realize that correct taxonomy and consistent identifications are very important. Misidentifications and inconsistent taxonomy will lead to incorrect conclusions on biostratigraphic ages and paleobiogeographic patterns. Unfortunately, paleontological research on macrofossils of Indonesia has come to a virtual standstill, as it has worldwide, and the number of experts that are qualified to properly analyze pre-Cenozoic macrofaunas and floras of Indonesia is limited.

B.2.1. History and Data on Pre-Cenozoic Paleontology of Indonesia
A significant body of literature has been published on Pre-Cenozoic fossils from outcrops in the Indonesian region over the last ~150 years, in which thousands of species have been identified and described. However, relatively little modern work has been done and this work has never been properly summarized in a textbook on the paleontology of Indonesia. Many of these papers, books and monographs are from the colonial era, published in the early 1900's, and written mainly by German and Dutch academic paleontologists. As a result, much of this work may be hard to find and is poorly known today. Yet, much of this early descriptive paleontology work is still relevant today, and the purpose of this paper is to review some of this historic knowledge, and place in a modern geologic context.


Notable series of paleontological monographs include:

  • 'Beitrage zur Geologie von Niederlandisch Indien' edited initially by G. Boehm and later by J. Wanner (1913-1959);
  • 'Palaeontologie von Timor' series edited by J. Wanner (1914-1929). 30 monographs in 16 volumes;
  • 'Wetenschappelijke Mededeelingen Dienst Mijnbouw Nederlands Indie', 1-28 (1929-1940). Mainly paleontological contributions from Geological Survey, Bandung, paleontologists Van der Vlerk, Gerth, Umbgrove, Oostingh, Tan Sin Hok and Von Koenigswald.
  • 'Geology and Palaeontology of Southeast Asia', Tokyo University Press, 1-25 (1964-1984). A remarkable series edited by T. Kobayashi et al., documenting numerous paleontological studies by Japanese paleontologists in mainland Southeast Asia and Indonesia from the 1950's - 1980's.
  • CCOP Technical Publications. Contain paleontological papers on Paleozoic - Mesozoic paleontology of mainland SE Asia and western Indonesia by French group of Henri Fontaine and associates Beauvais, Tien and Vachard in the 1980's - 1990's.
  • More current paleontological papers, or geologic papers with significant pre-Cenozoic paleontological content, include those by Hasibuan, Kristan-Tollman, Martini, Grant-Mackie, Skwarko, Charlton and others (see Bibliography).
Comprehensive listings of all faunas and species known from Indonesia were published in 1931 in the Professor Martin Memorial volume (Escher et al. 1931). This volume also includes reviews of stratigraphy of the Paleozoic by Brouwer and the Mesozoic by Wanner. A more recent and more concise compilation of macrofossil species is by Skwarko and Yusuf (1982). Another useful and still remarkably accurate review of pre-Cenozoic faunas/floras distribution in Indonesia is in Umbgrove (1938).

Literature on Paleozoic - Mesozoic fossils has been captured in the 'Bibliography of the geology of Indonesia and surrounding areas' (online at or see the Biostratigraphy chapter from this, published as Berita Sedimentologi 29A). It lists >1400 titles of books and papers from Indonesia and SE Asia with data on Paleozoic - Mesozoic fossils. The discussions below and the annotated bibliography should facilitate access to this wealth of published research from the region. The tables in this series of papers focus on references on Indonesian fossils.


Escher, B.G., I.M. van der Vlerk, J.H.F. Umbgrove and P.H. Kuenen (eds.), 1931. De palaeontologie en stratigraphie van Nederlandsch Oost-Indie (K. Martin Memorial Volume), Leidsche Geologische Mededelingen. 5, 1, p. 1-648.
Fontaine, H. (ed.), 1990. Ten years of CCOP research on the Pre-Tertiary of East Asia. CCOP Techn. Publ. TP 20, 375p.
Fontaine, H. and S. Gafoer (eds.), 1989. The pre-Tertiary fossils of Sumatra and their environments. Comm. Co-ord. Joint Prosp. Mineral Res. Asian Offshore Areas (CCOP), Techn. Publ. TP 19, Bangkok, 356p.
Harsono Pringgoprawiro, D. Kadar and S.K. Skwarko, 1998. Foraminifera in Indonesian stratigraphy, Vol.3: Palaeozoic and Mesozoic foraminifera. Geol. Res. Dev. Centre, Bandung, p. 1-150.

Hasibuan, F., 2008. Pre-Tertiary biostratigraphy of Indonesia. In: Proc. Int. Symp. Geoscience resources and environments of Asian Terranes (GREAT 2008), 4th IGCP 516 and 5th APSEG, Bangkok, p. 323-325.

Hasibuan, F. and Purnamaningsih, 1998. Pre-Tertiary biostratigraphy of Indonesia. In: J.L. Rau (ed.) Proc. 34th Sess. Sess. Co-ord. Comm. Coastal Offshore Geosc. Programs E and SE Asia (CCOP), Taejon 1997, 2, Techn. Repts, p. 40-54.

Kobayashi, T., R. Toriyama and W. Hashimoto (eds.), 1984. Geology and Palaeontology of Southeast Asia, University of Tokyo Press, 25, 488p.

Skwarko, S.K. and G. Yusuf, 1982. Bibliography of the invertebrate macrofossils of Indonesia (with cross references). Geol. Res. Dev. Centre, Bandung, Spec. Publ. 3, p. 1-66.

Umbgrove, J.H.F., 1935. De Pretertiaire historie van den Indischen Archipel. Leidsche Geol. Meded. 7, p. 119-155.

Umbgrove, J.H.F., 1938. Geological history of the East Indies. AAPG Bull. 22, p. 1-70.

Van Gorsel, J.T., 2014. An introduction to Cenozoic macrofossils of Indonesia. Berita Sedimentologi 30, p. 63-76.

Van Gorsel, J.T., P. Lunt and R. Morley, 2014. Introduction to Cenozoic biostratigraphy of Indonesia- SE Asia. Berita Sedimentologi 29, p. 6-40.

In the Indonesian region Early Paleozoic fossiliferous rocks are known only from West Papua, south of the Central Range and on the Birds Head (but not in Papua New Guinea). Of significant interest, but unfortunately poorly documented and poorly understood, are reported occurrences of Devonian fossils in the accretionary system of North Borneo. An early review of Paleozoic stratigraphy is by Brouwer (1931)
Early Paleozoic fossiliferous platform sediments and faunas of SE Asia are best-known from outside Indonesia, particularly on the Sibumasu terrane (NW Malay Peninsula and Langkawi islands-Peninsular and NW Thailand-E Myanmar-Yunnan; but not from the eastern Malay Peninsula or Sumatra [see references in separate Bibliography]). Pre-Carboniferous rocks may therefore be expected in the southern extension of the Sibumasu block in Sumatra, but there is no fossil evidence for this yet (Fontaine and Gafoer 1989).
Late Paleozoic (Carboniferous-Permian) deposits in Indonesia are more widespread than Early Paleozoic rocks. They have been reported only from Sumatra, West Papua (South of the Central Range and the Birds Head) and Timor and adjacent islands (Figure 1). Blocks of Late Carboniferous - Early Permian fusulinid limestones are also known from both the NW Kalimantan - Sarawak border region and from NE Kalimantanbut these occurrences are probably in accretionary melange of younger age.


Most of the Paleozoic sediments of Indonesia are in marine facies, so most studies deal with marine macro- and microfossils. In the Paleozoic dominant groups are brachiopods, ammonoids, corals, stromatolites, crinoids, blastoids, graptolites and trilobites. Microfossils tend to be more significant than macrofossils for Paleozoic biostratigraphy, with conodonts, radiolaria and foraminifera as the most important groups:

1. Radiolaria: in deep marine Paleozoic - Mesozoic deposits radiolaria offer high resolution biostratigraphy. Belts of radiolarian-rich cherts and shales can be used to trace the locations of former ocean basins and distal continental margins;

2. Conodonts: key group for dating of Paleozoic - Triassic shallow marine limestones;

3. Benthic foraminifera: important in dating Late Paleozoic shallow marine limestone (incl. fusulinids). An illustrated listing of Paleozoic-Mesozoic foraminifera species from Indonesia was compiled by Harsono, Kadar and Skwarko (1998, vol. 3; limited edition);
Paleozoic vertebrate faunas are very rare in the SE Asia region, and represented only by Late Silurian - Devonian marine fish fossils in mainland SE Asia and in West Papua (Turner 1995).


Brouwer, H.A., 1931. Paleozoic In: B.G. Escher et al. (eds.) De palaeontologie en stratigraphie van Nederlandsch Oost-Indie, Leidsche Geol. Meded. 5 (K. Martin memorial volume), p. 552-566.


The oldest fossils described from Indonesian territory are from the Ordovician-Silurian of West Papua. Cambrian and Late Precambrian sediments are probably present in this as well, but no diagnostic fossils have yet been recovered. Studies of Paleozoic fossils from West Papua are few, probably partly because faunas are not abundant and partly because outcrops of Early Paleozoic are in areas with difficult physical and political access. Most of the fossils described are from float samples from rivers draining the southern slopes of the Central Range.

Ordovician fossils reported from West Papua include:

1. Conodonts from 'basement limestone' in oil exploration wells Noordwest 1 and Cross Catalina 1 in the Central Range, including Ordovician Serratognathus bilobatus (Nicoll 2006). These limestones are part of the extensive Middle Cambrian - Early Ordovician Goulburn Group of carbonate-dominated shelf sediments, which underlie most of the Arafura Sea and West Papua South of the Central Ranges (Zhen et al. 2012);

2. Llanvirnian graptolites from shale from the Heluk River in the eastern foothills of the Central Range (Fortey and Cocks, 1986; not described or illustrated);

3. Possible occurrences of Ordovician-age orthoconic nautiloids of the Orthoceras-group, described as Irianoceras antiquum by Kobayashi and Burton (1971), but this was deemed to be a junior synonym of Bactroceras latisiphonatum Glenister 1952 by Crick and Quarles van Ufford (1995). These nautiloids are from black shale nodules in river float within and south of the Central Range of West Papua (Figure 2). The problem is that (1) the nodules look very similar to those from Kembelangan Formation black shales, which yield common Middle-Late Jurassic ammonites, and (2) the fossils appear to have been collected in areas with nearby outcrops of Jurassic rocks, but no Paleozoic. These observations suggest a likely Jurassic age for these nautiloids, but this type of straight nautiloids is not known from post-Triassic rocks anywhere in the world. It is hard to decide whether these 'Ordovician' nautiloids represent (1) material from as yet unidentified outcrops of Ordovician shales in the Central Range; (2) an as yet undescribed nautiloid species of Jurassic age, or (3) reworked Ordovician fauna into Middle-Late Jurassic sediments.

4. Another occurrence of molds of possible Ordovician Orthoceras is in phyllitic shale (presumably Kemum Formation), just N of the mouth of the Wesan River in the NW part of the Birds Head (Kruizinga 1957).
  • Crick, R.E. and A.I. Quarles van Ufford, 1995. Late Ordovician (Caradoc-Ashgill) ellesmerocerid Bactroceras latisiphonatum of Irian Jaya and Australia. Alcheringa 19, 3, p. 235-241.
  • Fortey, R.A. and L.R.M. Cocks, 1986. Marginal faunal belts and their structural implications, with examples from the Lower Palaeozoic. J. Geol. Soc. London 143, p. 151-160.
  • Kobayashi, T. and C.K. Burton, 1971. Discovery of ellesmereoceroid cephalopods in Irian, New Guinea. Proc. Japanese Academy 47, 7, p. 625-630.
  • Martin, K., 1911. Palaeozoische, Mesozoische und Kaenozoische Sedimente aus dem sud-westlichen Neu-Guinea. Sammlung. Geol. Reichsmus. Leiden, ser. 1, 9, 1, E.J. Brill, p. 84-107.
Similar to the Ordovician, Silurian-age fossils are known only from West Papua:
1. Graptolites Monograptus turriculatus and M. marri from the highly-deformed deep water sediments of the Kemum Formation in the north-central Birds Head (Llandoverian; Visser and Hermes 1962);
2. Small trilobites and brachiopods from float samples in rivers draining the southern slopes of the Central Range (Martin, 1911), associated with Silurian conodonts (Ludlowian; Van den Boogaard 1990);
3. Conodonts from Modio Dolomite in Charles Louis Range, SW West Papua, with Panderodus cf. simplex, indicate a Silurian age (Nicoll and Bladon 1991);
3. Silurian cosmopolitan coral Halysites wallichi was also found in river float in a tributary of the Noordoost/Lorentz River (Musper, 1938; Figure 3);
4. Late Silurian (M Ludlow) thelodont and acanthodian fish scales from Lorenz River in eastern W Papua and Kemum Fm of north part of Birds Head (Turner et al. 1995).
  • Musper, K.A.F.R., 1938. Over het voorkomen van Halysites wallichi Reed op Nieuw Guinea. De Ingenieur in Nederl.-Indie (IV Mijnbouw en Geologie), 5, 10, p. 156-158.
  • Nicoll, R.S. and G.M. Bladon, 1991. Silurian and Late Carboniferous conodonts from the Charles Louis Range and central Birds Head, Irian Jaya, Indonesia. BMR J. Austral. Geol. Geoph. 12, 4, p. 279-286.
  • Turner, S., J.M.J. Vergoossen and G.C. Young, 1995. Fish microfossils from Irian Jaya. Mem. Assoc. Australasian Palaeont. 18, p. 165-178.
  • Van den Boogaard, M., 1990. A Ludlow conodont fauna from Irian Jaya (Indonesia). Scripta Geol. 92, p. 1-27.
  • Visser, W.A. and J.J. Hermes, 1962. Geological results of the exploration for oil in Netherlands New Guinea. Verh. Kon. Nederl. Geol. Mijnbouwk. Genootschap, Geol. Series 20, p. 1-265.
Devonian-age fossils are relatively widespread on mainland SE Asia (Malay Peninsula, NE Thailand, S China, Cambodia, Vietnam), and also along the Australia-New Guinea margins. All these regions were probably in low latitudes in Devonian time, favoring widespread carbonate development.  However, Devonian fossils are relatively rare in Indonesia, and are known only from West Papua and NE Kalimantan.
Devonian Corals
Middle or Late Devonian corals, including Heliolites and Favosites, and stromatoporoids, have been reported from the dark grey 'Modio Dolomite Formation', which outcrops south of the Central Range of West Papua (Gerth 1927, Keijzer 1941, Oliver et al. 1995).
These carbonates may be remnants of a widespread Middle Devonian reef system that continues for about 2000 km along the East Australia and New Guinea margin (Copper and Scotese 2003, Torsvik and Cocks 2013). Pebbles of M-U Devonian sandstones with the brachiopod genus Spirifer have been reported from the same region (Teichert, 1928).
In NE Kalimantan Devonian corals (Heliolites) and the stromatoporoid Clathrodictyon cf. spatiosum are present in limestone blocks in the 'Danau Formation' melange complex at the Telen River (Rutten 1940, 1947). Heliolites is a genus that is geographically widespread, also known from Indochina, NE Thailand, Laos, East Australia and Europe. Age of the melange complex has not been properly documented, but is likely Early Cretaceous (Tate 1992).
  • Copper, P. and C.R. Scotese, 2003. Megareefs in Middle Devonian supergreenhouse climates. Geol. Soc. America Spec. Paper 370, p. 209-230.
  • Gerth, H., 1927. Eine Favosites Kolonie aus dem Palaozoikum von Neu-Guinea. Leidsche Geol. Meded. 2, 3, p. 228-229.
  • Oliver, W.A., A.E.H. Peddler, R.E. Weiland and A. Quarles van Ufford, 1995. Middle Palaeozoic corals from the southern slope of the Central Ranges of Irian Jaya, Indonesia. Alcheringa 19, p. 1-15.
  • Rutten, M.G., 1940. On Devonian limestones with Clathrodictyon cf spatiosum and Heliolites porosus from Eastern Borneo. Proc. Kon. Nederl. Akad. Wet. 43, 8, p. 1061-1064.
  • Stehn, C.E., 1927. Devonische Fossilien von Hollandisch-Neu-Guinea. Wetensch. Meded. Dienst Mijnbouw Nederlandsch-Indie 5, p. 25-27.
  • Teichert, C., 1928. Nachweis Palaeozoischer Schichten von Sudwest Neu-Guinea. Nova Guinea 6, 3, p. 71-92.



Carboniferous deposits are relatively rare in Indonesia, and are limited to North Sumatra, West-Central Sumatra, West Papua and possibly also NW Kalimantan. In the late 1800's most of the Permian limestones from Sumatra and Timor were erroneously assigned to the Carboniferous (equivalent of 'Kohlenkalk' of NW Europe).



Early Carboniferous sediments are the oldest sediments identified in Sumatra and may be from two different tectonic blocks (Fontaine and Gafoer, 1989, Barber et al. 2005):

- temperate late Visean Alas Fm limestones in North Sumatra. These are probably part of the Sibumasu Terrane, which at this time was still part of Australian margin. With conodonts (Metcalfe 1983)

- shallower marine and warmer-climate Kuantan Fm limestone with corals (Syringopora, Siphonodendron), calcareous algae (Koninckopora) and cosmopolitan foraminiferal assemblages from West Sumatra (Agam River, NE of Padang; Fontaine and Gafoer, 1989, Kato et al. 1999). This is part of the West Sumatra Block, with affinities more similar to the low-latitude Indochina Block.


The un-fossiliferous, glacial pebbly mudstones of the Bohorok Formation of West and North Sumatra are probably of Late Carboniferous - earliest Permian age, but fossils are lacking.


NW Kalimantan - West Sarawak

In NW Borneo, in the border area between West Sarawak and NW Kalimantan, the oldest fossil-bearing rocks are tightly folded, steeply dipping sediments with chert and grey limestones of the Terbat Formation. These contain diverse latest Carboniferous and earliest Permian fusulinid assemblages with Pseudoschwagerina, Paraschwagerina, etc. (Krekeler 1932, 1933, Cummings 1962, Sanderson 1966, Vachard 1990, etc.). Correlative deposits are present in NW Kalimantan (Zeijlmans van Emmichoven, 1939). The fusulinid assemblages suggest affinity with low latitude Cathaysian regions, not with Sibumasu terrains.


West Papua

Conodonts from the Aimau Fm in the SW Tamrau Mountains of the Birds Head contain conodonts typical of Late Carboniferous (Hindeodus minutus, Neognathus; Nicoll and Bladon 1991).



Fontaine, H. and S. Gafoer, 1989. The Carboniferous. In: H. Fontaine and S. Gafoer (eds.) The Pre-Tertiary fossils of Sumatra and their environments, CCOP Techn. Publ. TP 19, Bangkok, p. 19-29.

Metcalfe, I., 1983. Conodont faunas, age and correlation of the Alas Formation (Carboniferous), Sumatra. Geol. Mag. 120, 6, p. 737-746.

Nicoll, R.S. and G.M. Bladon, 1991. Silurian and Late Carboniferous conodonts from the Charles Louis Range and central Birds Head, Irian Jaya, Indonesia. BMR J. Austral. Geol. Geoph. 12, 4, p. 279-286.

Sanderson, G.A., 1966. Presence of Carboniferous in West Sarawak. AAPG Bull. 50, 3, p. 578-580.

Vachard, D., 1990. A new biozonation of the limestones from Terbat area, Sarawak, Malaysia. In: H. Fontaine (ed.) Ten years of CCOP research on the Pre-Tertiary of East Asia, CCOP Techn. Bull. 20, p. 183-208.





Rich Permian faunas and floras are known from many localities in SE Asia-Indonesia-West Papua. For reviews of the shallow marine and non-marine Permian faunas and floras of SE Asia see Fontaine (1986, 2002). A comprehensive review of Permian marine faunas of Timor is by Charlton et al. (2002). For biostratigraphic correlations of marine sequences brachiopods and mollusks have been the main tool in the Gondwana realm, while fusulinid foraminifera are the principal group used for correlation along the Tethyan margin.
In Indonesia Permian faunas and floras are common on Timor, West-Central Sumatra and West Papua (not including Papua New Guinea) and, to a lesser degree, from Borneo. The Permian faunas from Timor are famous for yielding the richest marine Permian faunas in the world (Figure 4), with over 600 species described by 1926 (Wanner 1926). Most of the Permian fossiliferous sediments on Timor are not in any stratigraphic order, but occurs as isolated blocks in melange, olistostrome or broken formations. It is generally accepted that material from the famous fossil localities of Somohole and Bitauni areas are older (E Permian, ~Sakmarian- Artinskian) than those from the Basleo and Amarassi areas (late Middle Permian, ~Capitanian).
Interpretation of Permian fossils and stratigraphy in SE Asia is made difficult by the lack of a globally accepted time scale. Different authors used different sets of stage names, the names of which originated from the traditional centers of Permian studies in the USA, Russia, China or Western Europe.  The subdivision most used today is that sanctioned by the International Commission on Stratigraphy.
Charlton, T.R., A.J. Barber, R.A. Harris, S.T. Barkham et al., 2002. The Permian of Timor: stratigraphy, palaeontology and palaeogeography. J. Asian Earth Sci. 20, p. 719-774.
Fontaine, H., 1986. The Permian of Southeast Asia. CCOP Techn. Bull. 18, p. 1-111.
Fontaine, H., 2002. Permian of Southeast Asia: an overview. J. Asian Earth Sci. 20, p. 567- 588.
Fontaine, H. and S. Gafoer (1989)- The Lower Permian. In: H. Fontaine and S. Gafoer (eds.) The Pre-Tertiary fossils of Sumatra and their environments, CCOP Techn. Publ. TP 19, Bangkok, p. 47-51.
Fontaine, H. and S. Gafoer (1989)- The Middle Permian. In: H. Fontaine and S. Gafoer (eds.) The Pre-Tertiary fossils of Sumatra and their environments, CCOP Techn. Publ. TP 19, Bangkok, p. 99-112.
Wanner, J., 1926. Die marine Permfauna von Timor. Geol. Rundschau 17a, Sonderband (Steinmann Festschrift), p. 20-48.
Early Permian Cold-climate Bivalves and Brachiopods
Early Permian glacial marine deposits across northern Gondwana (Australia, India, etc.) often contain thick-shelled bivalves of the genera Atomodesma (Figure 5) and Eurydesma and the cool-climate brachiopod Globiella foordi (now also called Cimmeriella foordi). Comparable bivalve assemblages may be present in the Early Permian of the Sibumasu - Cimmerian terranes now in Sumatra, NW Malaysia, W Thailand and SW China (Sun 1993).
In Indonesia assemblages with these genera were found in the Early Permian Maubisse Formation of Timor (Beyrich 1865, Wanner 1922, 1940, Hasibuan 1994), but they are associated with relatively diverse marine faunas and glacio-marine deposits are not known from Timor. These faunas may suggest a proximity to glacial Gondwana of this part of Timor in earliest Permian time, but are not necessarily part of the glaciated terranes.
The presence in Timor Leste of a diverse fusulinid assemblage interpreted as of latest Carboniferous - earliest Permian age and presumably representing a relatively warm climate (Davydov et al. 2013) is puzzling in the context of widespread glaciations on Gondwana at this time.
Hasibuan, F., 1994. Fauna Gondwana dari Formasi Maubisse, Timor Timur. Proc. 23rd Ann. Conv. Indon. Assoc. Geol. (IAGI), Jakarta, 1, p. 104-111.
Permian Corals
Permian corals, generally in carbonate lithologies and associated with fusulinid larger foraminifera, are relatively widespread in SE Asia. Assemblage compositions differ with age, water depth and with paleogeographic position. Early Permian limestones from the Indochina terrane (East Thailand, etc.) contain typical 'Cathaysian', tropical, high-diversity coral and fusulinid assemblages, dominated by compound corals, while in the Early Permian of the Sibumasu Terrane corals are absent or dominated by small, solitary rugose corals, reflecting cooler and/or deeper waters (e.g. Peninsular Thailand; Fontaine et al. 1994, Yunnan, SW China; Wang and Sugiyama 2002). The low diversity assemblages dominated by solitary rugose coral species, have been called 'Lytvolasma faunas' or 'Cyathaxonia faunas'. They are generally viewed as 'anti-tropical', cooler climate coral assemblages (Kossovaya 2009). By late Middle and Late Permian time the Sibumasu terranes had moved towards tropical latitudes and started to have similar high-diversity coral and fusulinid faunas as the Indochina terranes.
In Indonesia Permian coral faunas are known mainly from:
1. Timor (Figure 6). Permian corals are locally very abundant in the Maubisse Formation/ Basleo beds. They are mainly 'Cythaxonia-faunas' with solitary corals like Lytvolasma, Timorphyllum, Lophophyllidium, Verbeekiella (incl. Verbeekiella australis Beyrich; Figure 7), Zaphrentis, Amplexus and Wannerophyllum. Colonial rugose corals like Michelinia, Favosites, Lonsdaleia timorica (Figure 7) and L. molengraaffi are present as well, but are relatively rare (Gerth 1921, Koker 1924, Wang 1947, Von Schouppe and Stacul 1955). The Timor Permian coral assemblages are very similar to those reported from the Baoshan Block, SW China (Zhao and Zhou 1987).
2. Sumatra. Corals have been reported from several localities in West Sumatra. Some of the Middle Permian limestones from West Sumatra contain high diversity corals that look similar to 'Cathaysian' assemblages of Central Thailand (Guguk Bulat; Fontaine 1983, 1989).
3. West Papua. Permian corals are widely distributed in the Aifam Fm (Visser and Hermes 1962, p. 54), including solitary Amplexus on the Birds Head (Broili 1924). However, typical low-latitude compound corals appear to be absent here (Fontaine et al. 1994, p. 39).
Gerth (1926) already noted that the Permian coral fauna of Timor indicated a relatively warm paleoclimate, while Permian deposits on adjacent Australia contained glacial deposits, suggesting that Timor and Australia must have been farther apart in Permian time.  However, if the Permian corals on Timor are younger than the earliest Permian glacial deposits on Gondwana, which they probably are, the contrast may not be as significant.
  • Fontaine, H., 1983. Some Permian corals from the Highlands of Padang, Sumatra, Indonesia. Publ. Geol. Res. Dev. Centre, Bandung, Paleont. Ser. 4, p. 1-31.
  • Fontaine, H., 1986. Discovery of Lower Permian corals in Sumatra. In: G.H. Teh and S. Paramananthan (eds.) Proc. GEOSEA V Conf., Kuala Lumpur 1984, 1, Geol. Soc. Malaysia Bull. 19, p.183-191.
  • Fontaine, H., 1989. Middle Permian corals of Sumatra. In: H. Fontaine and S. Gafoer (eds.) The Pre-Tertiary fossils of Sumatra and their environments, CCOP Techn. Paper 19, Bangkok, p. 149-165.
  • Gerth, H., 1921. Die Anthozoen der Dyas von Timor. Palaontologie von Timor, Schweizerbart, Stuttgart, 9, 16, p. 65-147.
  • Gerth, H., 1921. Der palaeontologische Character der Anthozoenfauna des Perms von Timor. Nederl. Timor Expeditie 1910-1912, Jaarboek Mijnwezen Ned. Oost-Indie 49 (1920), Verh. III, 1, p. 1-30.
  • Gerth, H., 1926. Die Korallenfauna des Perm von Timor und die Permische Vereisung. Leidsche Geol. Meded. 2, 1, p. 7-14.
  • Koker, E.M.J., 1924. Anthozoa uit het Perm van het eiland Timor. I. Zaphrentidae, Pterophyllidae, Cystiphyllidae, Amphiastreidae. Jaarboek Mijnwezen Nederl. Oost Indië 51 (1922), Verhand., p. 1-50.
  • Von Schouppe, A. and P. Stacul , 1955.- Die Genera Verbeekiella Penecke, Timorphyllum Gerth, Wannerophyllum n. gen., Lophophyllidium Grabau aus dem Perm von Timor. Palaeontographica Suppl. IV, Beitr. Geologie Niederlandisch-Indien 5, 3, p. 95-196.
  • Von Schouppe, A. and P. Stacul, 1959. Saulchenlose Pterocorallia aus dem Perm von Indonesisch Timor (mit Ausnahme der Polycoelidae). Eine morphogenetische und taxonomische Untersuchung. Palaeontographica Suppl. IV, Beitr. Geologie Niederlandisch-Indien 5, 4, p. 197-359.
Permian Ammonoids
Permian ammonoids are generally rare in Indonesia/SE Asia, but the ammonoid assemblages of Timor are among the richest in the world (Smith, 1927, Wanner 1932). Wanner (1926) counted 37 species of ammonoids and 21 nautiloids. Most numerous genera are Agathiceras and Paralegoceras (= Metalegoceras; Figure 8). Another Permian ammonoid locality in Indonesia includes Agathiceras from the folded series of Belitung (Kruizinga, 1950).
Blendinger et al. (1992) noted the remarkable similarity between the Middle Permian ammonoids from the cephalopod limestone of Timor with those from the West Mediterranean (Sosio Lst, Siclily) and Oman, suggesting unrestricted faunal exchange in a Middle Permian seaway along the distal N margin of Gondwana. Ehiro (1997, 1998) classified the Middle Permian ammonoid faunas from 'allochthous Timor' in his' Equatorial Tethyan province', based on the presence of taxa like Timorites and Waagenoceras, which are not known from Australia.

  • Furnish, W.M. and B.F. Glenister, 1971. The Lower Permian Somohole fauna of Timor. In: W.B. Saunders, The Somoholitidae: Mississippian to Permian Ammonoidea. J. Palaeont. 45, p. 100-118.
  • Haniel, C.A., 1915. Ammoniten aus dem Perm der Insel Letti. Jaarboek Mijnwezen Nederl. Oost-Indie 43 (1914) Verhand. 1, p. 161-165.
  • Haniel, C.A., 1915. Die Cephalopoden der Dyas von Timor. Palaontologie von Timor, Schweizerbart, Stuttgart, 3, 6, Schweizerbart, Stuttgart, p. 1-153.
  • Kruizinga, A., 1950. Agathiceras sundaicum Han., a Lower Permian fossil from Timor. (locality should be Belitung) Proc. Kon. Akad. Wetensch. Amsterdam 53, 7, p. 1056-1063.
  • Smith, J.P., 1927. Permian ammonoids of Timor. 2e Nederlandsche Timor-Expeditie 1916, IV, Jaarboek Mijnwezen Nederl.-Indie 55 (1926), Verhand. 1, p. 1-58.
  • Wanner, J., 1932. Zur Kenntnis der permischen Ammonoideen-fauna von Timor. Beitr. Palaeontologie des Ostindischen Archipels III, Neues Jahrbuch Miner., Geol. Pal., Beil. Band 67, B, p. 257-278.


Permian Trilobites

Trilobites are relatively rare in Indonesia, but have been reported only from Permian sediments of Sumatra (Roemer 1880), Timor (Tesch 1923, Gheyselinck, 1937) and float in the Noord River in West Papua (Martin 1911). They are mainly of the genus Pseudophillipsia: P. timorensis Roemer from Basleo, West Timor and P. sumatrensis from the Padang Highlands of West Sumatra (Figure 9).  Leman and Sone (2002) described similar Pseudophillipsia from the early Capitanian (Middle Permian) from Pahang, Central Belt of Malay Peninsula (= west margin of East Malaya/Indochina terrane).



  • Gheyselinck, R.F.C.R., 1937. Permian trilobites from Timor and Sicily. Doct. Thesis University of Amsterdam, Scheltema and Holkema, Amsterdam, 108 p.
  • Roemer, F., 1880. Uber eine Kohlenkalk-fauna der Westkuste von Sumatra. Palaeontographica 27, 3, p. 5-11.
  • Tesch, P., 1923. Trilobiten aus der Dyas von Timor und Letti. Palaeontologie von Timor 12, 21, p. 123-132.

Permian Fusulinid Foraminifera

Fusulinid larger foraminifera are tropical-subtropical shallow marine carbonate taxa (estimated paleolatitude range between 0 and 40° N and S), with a reputation of being excellent guide fossils in Carboniferous - Permian time. Fusulinids are widespread in Permian shallow marine limestones across SE Asia and areas further west, generally on terranes that border the Paleotethys suture. Hundreds of papers have been written on this group in SE Asia. For more details see references in Table 3 and the Permian chapter of the annotated bibliography.

Interpretation of fusulinid foram faunas can be very difficult. The taxonomy is overwhelming, with over 100 genus names and 1000's of species names. In the Permian of Thailand and Malaysia Toriyama (1984) recorded 265 species belonging to 70 genera; in the Permian of Afghanistan Leven (1997) counted 282 species and 58 genera; in the Middle Carboniferous - E Permian of Japan Ota et al. (1997) counted 56 species in 23 genera. These large numbers partly reflect actual high diversity, but probably also reflect overly ambitious splitting of taxa and also the creation of separate sets of names being used by different 'schools'. Fusulinid experts tend to be either from Japanese, Russian or American 'schools', each working with their own sets of species names, many of which are undoubtedly synonyms of named species from other regions. Difficulties in fusulinid identifications are also illustrated by comments of fusulinid experts themselves, who frequently disagree with each other on species identifications and genus attributions. So, while fusulinids are a powerful tool in Permian limestone biostratigraphy, the apparent taxonomic disarray makes it hard to determine exact ages and establish paleobiogeographic relationships between regions.
Fusulinids reached a maximum in diversity and sizes in the Middle Permian, as did other reefal fauna (corals, large molluscs, etc.). A significant extinction event of large fusulinids took place at the end of the Middle Permian (end or late Capitanian; e.g. Hada et al. 2014). The Late Permian is characterized by fusulinid assemblages that are reduced in size and diversity. Fusulinids went completely extinct at the mass extinction event at the end of the Permian.
In Indonesia Permian fusulinid foraminifera have been reported from 6-7 main areas, mainly on Sumatra, NW Borneo, Timor and the Birds Head of West Papua:
1. NW Kalimantan-Sarawak border area. The oldest fusulinids in Indonesia are from the Late Carboniferous - earliest Permian 'Terbat Limestone' of the NW Kalimantan- Sarawak border area. They were first reported by Krekeler (1932, 1933), and by several generations of subsequent authors (Table 3). Fusulinid assemblages are quite diverse and similar to 'Tethyan' faunas from E Thailand and S China (Cummings 1962, Vachard 1990, Fontaine 1990, Sakamoto and Ishibashi, 2002), from a time when glacial deposits were widespread on Gondwanaland and Gondwanaland-derived terranes like Sibumasu. Pebbles of this fusulinid limestone were also found in conglomerates of Triassic, Jurassic and Cretaceous age in W Sarawak and also in the basal Eocene of the NW Kutai Basin. Tan Sin Hok (in Krekeler 1933) examined the fusulinid beds from Sadong valley and believed them to be same species (and same volcanoclastic facies) as the Early Permian assemblages of Jambi. Fontaine (1990) believed these to be of Late Carboniferous - earliest Permian age.  The age and nature of the Terbat Limestone assemblages clearly demonstrates affinities to the Indochina Block, not Gondwana or Sibumasu (as do associated Triassic-Jurassic faunas and floras). The Terbat localities used to regarded as part of SW Borneo terrane, but recently they were placed in a separate small block of Indochina affinity named Semitau Block by Metcalfe (2013);
2. Padang Highlands, West Sumatra (Figure 10). Middle Permian fusulinids have long been known from the Padang Highlands of West Sumatra, mainly from the famous Guguk Bulat locality. Several of the large Middle Permian fusulinid index species of the Tethyan province were first described from Sumatra, like Verbeekina verbeeki (Geinitz, 1876), Sumatrina annae (Volz, 1904) and Schwagerina padangensis (Lange, 1925). Tien (1988) also recorded Colania douvillei. Many of the fusulinid species described from this part of West Sumatra are also common on the 'Cathaysian' Indochina Block of NE Thailand, but some have also been reported from the Sibumasu terrane, which by the end of the Middle Permian had moved into lower latitudes (e.g. Ueno et al. 2003).
3. Jambi, SW Sumatra. Early Permian fusulinids from the 'Productus Limestone' horizon in the Mengkareng Formation at Telok Gedang along the Merangin River, Jambi, on the 'West Sumatra Block' are of great interest because they underlie the beds with the famous 'Cathaysian' Jambi Flora, which is a significant element in tectonic reconstructions of Sumatra. Fusulinids were analyzed by various specialists (Ozawa 1929, Thompson 1936, Vachard 1990, Ueno et al. 2007). Most abundant is a species named Pseudofusulina rutschi (Thompson), originally assigned to Schwagerina, but subsequently classified in Triticites and Rugofusulina. Rugofusulina rutschi is very similar to a more widely known species R. alpina Schellwien and may be synonymous (Tien 1989). Also present is Pseudoschwagerina meranginensis (assigned to Sphaeroschwagerina by Davydov et al. 2013). It is a low-diversity assemblage that is generally believed to be of Early Permian age, with age interpretations varying from Upper Asselian (Tien 1989, Vachard 1990) to 'most likely Sakmarian' (Ueno 2007). However, since none of the species described from this locality can be tied directly to assemblages elsewhere, any conclusions on precise age and paleobiogeographic affinity would therefore appear to lack a real firm basis. From the nearby Batu Impi locality West of Bangko, fusulinids from thin limestones in the volcanoclastic Palepat Fm, which overlies the beds with Jambi flora, were studied by Tien (1989) and Ueno et al. (2007; moderately rich Artinskian-Kungurian). Two additional small occurrences on Sumatra worth flagging are in West Sumatra (Batang Siputar; Hahn and Weber 1981) and South Sumatra (Bukit Pendopo; Palembang; De Neve 1949).
4. Timor and adjacent islands Leti and Roti. Fusulinids are also known from various localities on Timor, and are also present on adjacent Roti and Leti islands (Schubert 1915a, Thompson 1949, Davydov et al. 2013). Many of the Timor assemblages are of low-diversity, but high abundance, and are dominated by a species initially described as Fusulina wanneri by Schubert (1915), the type species of the 'anti-tropical' genus Monodiexodina (Figure 11). The small fauna of verbeekinids described from Leti Island by Schubert (1915b) with Doliolina lepida var. lettensis differs from assemblages known from Timor (Thompson 1949). Another apparently different latest Carboniferous - earliest Permian assemblage from Timor Leste was described recently by Davydov et al. (2013).
5. Birds Head of West Papua.
Rare fusulinids have been reported from West Papua, the only undisputed occurrences on Permian Gondwanaland, but are poorly documented. One occurrence in the Birds Head was figured by Visser and Hermes (1962, p. 54). Another possible fusulinid occurrence was reported, but not figured, from Permian limestone in a consultant biostratigraphy report of oil exploration well TBF 1X (3947m; NE of Misool in Bintuni Bay, south of Birds Head).

6. Bangka- Belitung. Lesser-known fusulinid localities are in the intensely folded Permian beds of North Bangka (De Roever 1951) and Belitung (Strimple and Yancey 1974).
Three paleogeographic domains may be distinguished in SE Asia, partly based on fusulinids, which are useful for constraining plate reconstructions:
1. 'Tethyan'/Cathaysian', with high diversity fusulinid assemblages (NW Borneo and some of the Timor and West Sumatra fusulinid assemblages?);
2. Subtropical/Warm temperate domains, with low diversity fusulinid assemblages with 'anti-tropical' genera like Monodiexodina and Polydiexodina, in Early Permian, and higher diversity 'Tethyan-affinity' fusulinid assemblages by late Middle Permian (typical of' Cimmerian Transit plates' like Sibumasu (Ueno 2006; in Indonesia Monodiexodina has been reported from Timor and West Sumatra)
3. Gondwanan terranes (India, Australia): contain no fusulinids.
Interesting assemblages of Late Middle Permian smaller benthic foraminifera with the pillared miliolid Shanita amosi, commonly associated with Hemigordius renzi and Hemigordiopsis, have been found in many limestones localities on mainland SE Asia. These are commonly viewed as 'anti-tropical' species and appear to be restricted to the 'Cimmerian'/Sibumasu terranes' (Fontaine et al. 1994, Jin and Yang 2004). Shanita has not been reported from Indonesia, but this may be due to absence of limestones of the right age and facies and/or lack of studies in places like Sumatra. Hemigordius is present in the Murgabian (early M Permian) limestones of Bukit Pendopo, South Sumatra (Tien, 1989). The nearest occurrence of Shanita in the Indonesian region is from 'basement carbonates' (Tampur Formation) in the Singa Besar 1 well, in the Malaysian sector of the Malacca Straits (Fontaine et al. 1992), which is on the Sibumasu Block.
Brady, H.B., 1875. On some fossil foraminifera from the West-coast district, Sumatra. Geol. Mag. 2, p. 532-539.
Davydov, V.I., D.W. Haig and E. McCartain, 2013. A latest Carboniferous warming spike recorded by a fusulinid-rich bioherm in Timor Leste: implications for East Gondwana deglaciation. Palaeogeogr., Palaeoclim., Palaeoecol. 376, p. 22-38.
Fontaine, H., C. Chonglakmani, I. Amnan and S. Piyasin, 1994. A well-defined Permian biogeographic unit: peninsular Thailand and northwest Peninsula Malaysia. J. Southeast Asian Earth Sci. 9, p. 129-151.
Jin, X.C. and X.N. Yang, 2004. Paleogeographic implications of the Shanita-Hemigordius fauna (Permian foraminifer) in the reconstruction of Permian Tethys. Episodes 27, 4, p. 273-278.
Lange, E., 1925. Eine mittelpermische Fauna von Guguk Bulat (Padanger Oberland, Sumatra). Verh. Geol. Mijnbouwk. Gen. Nederl. Kol., Geol. Ser. 7, 3, p. 213-295.
Schubert, R., 1915. Die Foraminiferen des jungeren Palaozoikums von Timor. Palaontologie von Timor, Schweizerbart, Stuttgart, 2, 3, p. 47-60.
Schubert, R., 1915. Uber Foraminiferengesteine der Insel Letti. Jaarboek Mijnwezen Nederl. Oost-Indie 43 (1914), Verhand. 1, p. 169-187.
Thompson, M.L., 1936. The fusulinid genus Verbeekina. J. Paleontology 10, 3, p. 193-201.
Thompson, M.L., 1936. Lower Permian fusulinids from Sumatra. J. Paleontology 10, 7, p. 587-592.
Tien, Nguyen D., 1986. Foraminifera and algae from the Permian of Guguk Bulat and Silungkang, Sumatra. United Nations CCOP Techn. Bull. 18, p. 138-147.
Ueno, K., 2003. The Permian fusulinoidean faunas of the Sibumasu and Baoshan blocks: their implications for the paleogeographic and paleoclimatologic reconstruction of the Cimmerian Continent. Palaeogeogr., Palaeoclim., Palaeoecol. 193, p. 1-24.
Ueno, K., 2006. The Permian antitropical fusulinoidean genus Monodiexodina: distribution, taxonomy, paleobiogeography and paleoecology. J. Asian Earth Sci. 26, p. 380-404.
Ueno, K., S. Nishikawa, I.M.van Waveren, F. Hasibuan et al., 2006. Early Permian fusuline faunas of the Mengkarang and Palepat Formations in the West Sumatra Block, Indonesia: their faunal characteristics, age and geotectonic implications. In: Proc. 2nd Int. Symp. Geological anatomy of E and S Asia, paleogeography and paleoenvironment in Eastern Tethys (IGCP 516), Quezon City, p. 98-102.
Volz, W., 1904. Zur Geologie von Sumatra. Beobachtungen und Studien, Anhang II, Einige neue Foraminiferen und Korallen sowie Hydrokorallen aus dem Obercarbon Sumatras. Geol. Palaeont. Abh., Jena, N.F. 6, 2, 112, p. 177-194.
Permian Brachiopods
In Indonesia Permian brachiopods are known from Sumatra, Timor and West Papua (Table 3). The principal monographs on Indonesian brachiopods are by Broili (1915, 1916), Hamlet (1928) and Wanner and Sieverts (1935), all from Timor. Permian brachiopods were described from Sumatra by Meyer (1922) and West Papua by Archbold (1981).
Productus and Spirifer groups dominate the Timor and West Papua assemblages (Figure 12). The brachiopod faunas from Timor are relatively rich (49 species). However, unlike many other fossil groups from Timor like crinoids and blastoids, no new species were identified in the first monograph on this group by Broili (1916), attesting to the relatively cosmopolitan nature of these brachiopod taxa. Studies on paleobiogeographic patterns within Permian brachiopod assemblages therefore appear to have been somewhat non-diagnostic, due to the widespread geographic distribution of many of the taxa. Crippa et al. (2014) also noted that Indonesian Permian brachiopod faunas show very low endemicity, consisting mainly of Boreal and Palaeoequatorial genera.

The genus Stereochia (Figure 12-2,-3 is of interest because it is commonly regarded as an anti-tropical genus (Shi et al. 1995, Crippa et al. 2014). In mainland SE Asia Stereochia-Meekella brachiopod fauna characterizes the Sibumasu terrane in Peninsular Thailand and the NW Malay Peninsula (Fang 1994). In Indonesia Stereochia was reported as 'Productus semireticulatus' from Timor (Beyrich 1865, Broili 1916) and from the Padang Highlands, West Sumatra (Woodward 1879). It is also the dominant brachiopod genus associated with the Early Permian Jambi flora of SW Sumatra (S. semireticulatus or S. irianensis; Hasibuan et al. 2000, Crippa et al. 2014).



Archbold, N.W., 1981. Permian brachiopods from western Irian Jaya, Indonesia. Geol. Res. Dev. Centre, Bandung, Paleont. Ser. 2, p. 1-25.

Broili, F., 1915. Permische Brachiopoden der Insel Letti. Jaarboek Mijnwezen Nederl. Oost-Indie 43 (1914) Verhand. 1, p. 187-207.

Broili, F., 1916. Die Permischen Brachiopoden von Timor. Palaeontologie von Timor, Schweizerbart, Stuttgart, VII, 12, p. 1-104.

Broili, F., 1922. Permische Brachiopoden von Rotti. Jaarboek Mijnwezen Nederl. Oost-Indie 49 (1920), Verhand. 3, p. 223-227.

Crippa, G., L. Angiolini, I. Van Waveren, M.J. Crow, F. Hasibuan, M.H. Stephenson and K. Ueno, 2014. Brachiopods, fusulines and palynomorphs of the Mengkarang Formation (Early Permian, Sumatra) and their palaeobiogeographical significance. J. Asian Earth Sci. 79, p. 206-223.

Hamlet, B., 1928. Permische Brachiopoden, Lamellibranchiaten und Gastropoden von Timor. In: 2e Nederlandsche Timor-Expeditie, Jaarboek Mijnwezen Nederl.-Indie 56 (1927), Verh. 2, p. 1-115.

Hasibuan, F., S. Andi Mangga and Suyoko, 2000. Stereochia semireticulatus (Martin) dari Formasi Mengkarang, Jambi, Sumatra. Geol. Res. Dev. Centre, Paleont. Ser. 10, Bandung, p. 59-69.

Leman, M.S., 1994. The significance of Upper Permian brachiopods from Merapoh area, northwest Pahang. Geol. Soc. Malaysia Bull. 35, p. 113-121.

Shi, G.R. and N.W. Archbold, 1995. Permian brachiopod faunal sequences of the Shan-Thai terrane: biostratigraphy, palaeobiogeographical affinities and plate tectonic/palaeoclimatic implications. J. Southeast Asian Earth Sci. 11, p. 177-187.

Tan Sin Hok, 1933. Uber Leptodus (Lyttonia auctorum) cf. tenuis (Waagen) vom Padanger Oberland (Mittel Sumatra). Wetensch. Meded. Dienst Mijnbouw Nederl. Indie 25, p. 66-70.

Wanner, J. and H. Sieverts, 1935. Zur Kenntnis der permischen Brachiopoden von Timor. 1. Lyttoniidae und ihre biologische und stammesgeschichtliche Bedeutung. Beitr. Palaeontologie des ostindischen Archipels 12, Neues Jahrbuch Miner. Geol. Palaont., Beil. Band 74, B, p. 201-281.

Waterhouse, J.B., 1973. Permian brachiopod correlations for South-East Asia. Proc. Regional Conf. Geology of Southeast Asia, Bull. Geol. Soc. Malaysia. 6, p. 187-210.


Permian Crinoids and Blastoids

Timor Island has long been famous for its unique Permian deposits with abundant, diverse and well-preserved crinoid and blastoid faunas. Wanner (1923) identified 239 crinoid species in 75 genera. Two-thirds of these species are not known outside Timor (Wanner 1924, Webster 1998). Half of all crinoid species are poteriocrinids, with dominant genera Timorocrinus, Ceriocrinus, Parabursacrinus, etc.

Most of the Timor crinoids and blastoids are from red-brown marls and tuffs with interbedded limestones, a formation named Maubisse Formation in Timor Leste or Sonnebait Series in older literature on West Timor (Figure 13). They were believed to be relatively warm, shallow marine deposits, but they may actually be mostly hemi-pelagic organisms that ended up in clastic-free deep water carbonates that are often associated with basic volcanics (seamounts?). The richest occurrences are in the Basleo area near Niki-Niki, and are probably from exotic blocks in Neogene melange deposits. Associated cephalopods suggest these are probably mainly of Middle Permian age (Haniel 1915). Crinoid assemblages from the Amarassi region of SW Timor are less diverse and probably of Late Permian age (Wanner 1923).

Blastoid assemblages of Timor have the highest abundances and diversity in the world. Of the 13 Permian blastoid genera known from Timor only three or four also occur outside Timor. The main monographs on blastoids are Wanner (1924, 1940, Figures 14, 15).

The only other place in SE Asia where some of the Timor species of crinoids and blastoids were found is in the late Early-Middle Permian Ratburi Limestone of Peninsular Thailand (Racey et al. 1994; Sibumasu Terrane; Figure 16). Species of 'Basleo fauna' include the crinoids Timorocrinus pumulus Wanner 1924, Parabursacrinus and Timorocidaris sphaeracantha Wanner 1920, and the blastoid Deltoblastus permicus (Wanner 1910). Outside SE Asia rare Deltoblastus have been reported from Oman and Sicily, both also on Cimmerian terranes. Although they are present in much smaller numbers in Peninsular Thailand than at the Timor localities, their presence does suggest they were in the same faunal province around Artinskian time.



Breimer, A. and D.B. Macurda, 1972. The phylogeny of the fissiculate blastoids. Verhand. Kon. Ned. Akad. Wetensch., Amsterdam, ser. 1, 26, 3, p. 1-390.

De Marez Oyens, F.A.H.W., 1940. Neue Permische Krinoiden von Timor, mit Bemerkungen über deren Vorkommen im Basleogebiet. In: H.A. Brouwer (ed.) Geological Expedition of the University of Amsterdam to the Lesser Sunda Islands, etc., 1937, Noord Hollandsche Publ., Amsterdam, 1, p. 285-348.

Wanner, J., 1916. Die permischen Echinodermen von Timor I. In: J. Wanner (ed.) Palaontologie von Timor 6, 11, Schweizerbart, Stuttgart, p. 1-329.

Wanner, J., 1923. Die permischen Krinoiden von Timor. In: H.A. Brouwer (ed.) 2e Nederlandsche Timor-Expeditie 1916, II, Jaarboek Mijnwezen Nederl. Oost-Indie 50 (1921), Verh. 3, p. 1-348.

Wanner, J., 1924. Die permischen Blastoiden von Timor. Jaarboek Mijnwezen Nederl. Oost-Indie 51 (1922), Verhand. 1, p. 163-233.

Wanner, J., 1929. Neue Beitrage zur Kenntnis der Permischen Echinodermen von Timor. I. Allagecrinus, II. Hypocrinites. Dienst Mijnbouw Nederl. Indie, Wetensch. Meded. 11, p. 1-116.

Wanner, J., 1940. Neue Blastoideen aus dem Perm von Timor, mit einem Beitrag zur Systematik der Blastoiden. In: H.A. Brouwer (ed.) Geological Expedition of the University of Amsterdam to the Lesser Sunda Islands, etc., 1937, 1, Noord Hollandsche Publ. Co., Amsterdam, p. 215-277.

Webster, G.D., 1998. Palaeobiogeography of Tethys Permian crinoids. In: G.R. Shi, N.W. Archbold and M. Grover (eds.) Strzelecki Int. Symposium on Permian of Eastern Tethys: biostratigraphy, palaeogeography and resources, Proc. Royal Soc. Victoria 110, 1-2, p. 289-308.
Permian Floras

Permian plant fossils, associated with thin coal beds, are known from West Sumatra and West Papua. Early Permian warm-Cathaysian floras are known from Sumatra and NW Kalimantan, while cooler-Gondwanan Glossopteris floras are present in West Papua (but mixed with some Cathaysian elements).

Permian floras have long been used in reconstructions of tectonic plates, with the presence of the tree-like seed fern Glossopteris typical of Gondwana (Australia- India) and Gigantopteris floras characteristic of low-latitude, 'Cathaysian' terranes (South China, Indochina). The Cathaysian nature of the Jambi flora played an important role in the plate reconstruction history of Sumatra (Barber et al. 2005).


Jambi Flora, W Sumatra

The famous Early Permian 'Jambi flora' from the Merangin River area in SW Sumatra was originally discovered by Tobler, and first described by Jongmans and Gothan (1925) (Figure 17). The flora was initially viewed as of Euramerican affinity, without Gondwanan or Cathaysian Gigantopteris flora elements. However, after the Jambi paleobotanical expedition of 1925-1927, Jongmans and Gothan (1935) also recognized some North Cathaysian species.


The Jambi flora was recently re-sampled and studied by a group from the Naturalis Museum, Leiden, and the Geological Survey of Indonesia (Van Waveren et al., 2007, Booi et al., 2009). They also recognize affinities to Cathaysian flora, but argue that is not a fully Cathaysian flora, but its greatest similarity is with floras from North China, either the Artinskian Shansi Series (Asama et al. 1975) or the Kungurian Lower Shihhotse beds (Van Waveren et al. 2007). The Jambi Flora is probably best characterized as a late Early Permian temperate subgroup of the true low-latitude Cathaysian floral province.

The age of the Jambi flora is Early Permian, but exactly what stage of the Early Permian has not been definitively established. Low diversity fusulinid foraminifera from underlying limestone beds appear to be of a rather endemic nature, which different fusulinid experts have interpreted as Late Asselian or Sakmarian (see above).

Permian plant assemblages are also known from West Papua, both the Birds Head and areas south of the Central Range. They were first described by Jongmans (1940, 1941), who documented only Cathaysian and Euramerican species (Taeniopteris, Pecopteris, Sphenophyllum). Hopping and Wagner (in Visser and Hermes 1962) also recognized Gondwanan Glossopteris and Vertebraria. The West Papua floras are generally viewed as mixed floras, dominated by Gondwanan elements, but with common Cathaysian elements (Asama et al. 1975, Li and Wu 1994, Rigby 1998, 2001).

A poorly known Permian plant assemblage was also reported from SE Belitung island by Van Overeem (1960). It was provisionally identified by Jongmans as a Permian Cathaysian (Gigantopteris) flora, but has never been described. No plant fossils are known from Timor, mainly because all Permian sediments are in marine facies.
The existence of mixed Gondwanan-Cathaysian floras in West Papua (and in parts of mainland SE Asia like Thailand and Laos is significant for Permian plate reconstructions. Because Glossopteris and many Cathaysian plants like Gigantopteris have relatively large seeds, which are unlikely be dispersed across wide oceans, these mixed Permian floras suggest some configuration of land connections (or only very narrow seaways) between the 'Cathaysian' and Gondwana provinces in Permian time, not a wide Paleotethys Ocean.
Asama, K., 1976. Gigantopteris flora in Southeast Asia and its phytopalaeogeographic significance. In: T. Kobayashi & R. Toriyama (eds.) Geology and Palaeontology of SE Asia, University of Tokyo Press, 17, p. 191-207.
Booi, M., I.M. van Waveren and J.H.A. van Konijnenburg-van Cittert, 2009. Comia and Rhachiphyllum from the early Permian of Sumatra, Indonesia. Rev. Palaeobot. Palynology 156, p. 418-435.
Booi, M., I.M. van Waveren and J.H.A. van Konijnenburg-van Cittert, 2009. The Jambi gigantopterids and their place in gigantopterid classification. Botanical J. Linnean Soc. 161, 3, p. 302-328.
Hopping, C.H. and R.H. Wagner, 1962. Enclosure 17, Photographs of fossils. In: W.A. Visser & J.J. Hermes, Geological results of the exploration for oil in Netherlands New Guinea, Kon. Nederl. Geol. Mijnbouwkundig Genootschap, Geol. Ser. 20, p. 1-11.
Jongmans, W.J., 1940. Beitrage zur Kenntnis der Karbonflora von Niederlandisch Neu Guinea. Mededelingen Geol. Stichting 1938-1939, p. 263-274.
Jongmans, W.J. & W. Gothan, 1925. Beitrage zur Kenntnis der Flora des Oberkarbons von Sumatra. Verhand. Geol. Mijnbouwk. Gen. Nederl. Kol., Geol. Ser., 8, p. 279-303.
Jongmans, W.J. & W. Gothan, 1935. Die Ergebnisse der palaobotanischen Djambi-Expedition 1925. 2. Die palaeobotanischen Ergebnisse. Jaarboek Mijnwezen Nederl. Indie (1930), 59, Verhand. 2, p. 71-201.
Li, X.X. and X.Y. Wu, 1994. The Cathaysian and Gondwana floras; their contribution to determining the boundary between eastern Gondwana and Laurasia. J. Southeast Asian Earth Sci. 9, 4, p. 309-317.
Playford, G. & J.F. Rigby, 2008. Permian palynoflora of the Ainim and Aiduna formations, West Papua. Revista Espanola Micropal. 40, 1-2, p. 1-57.
Rigby, J.F., 1998. Upper Palaeozoic floras of SE Asia. In: R. Hall & J.D. Holloway (eds.) Biogeography and geological evolution of SE Asia, Backhuys Publ., Leiden, p. 73-82.
Rigby, J.F., 1998. Glossopteris occurrences in the Permian of Irian Jaya (West New Guinea). In: G.R. Shi, N.W. Archbold & M. Grover (eds.) Strzelecki Int. Symposium on Permian of Eastern Tethys: biostratigraphy, palaeogeography and resources, Proc. Royal Soc. Victoria 110, 1-2, p. 309-315.
Rigby, J.F., 2001. A review of the Early Permian flora from Papua (West New Guinea). In: I. Metcalfe, J.M.B. Smith et al. (eds.) Faunal and floral migrations and evolution in SE Asia- Australasia, A.A. Balkema, Lisse, p. 85-95.
Srivastava, A.K. & D. Agnihotri, 2010. Dilemma of Late Palaeozoic mixed floras in Gondwana. Palaeogeogr., Palaeoclim., Palaeoecol. 298, p. 54-69.
Van Waveren, I.M., E.A.P. Iskandar, M. Booi and J.H.A. van Konijnenburg-van Cittert, 2007. Composition and palaeogeographic position of the Early Permian Jambi flora from Sumatra. Scripta Geol. 135, p. 1-28.
The Indonesian region is host to some important localities of Paleozoic fossil faunas and floras. This paper reviews some of the current knowledge and provides references to the many paleontological studies conducted here in the last 150 years.
Key references are given at the end of each chapter. Additional titles not fully referenced here can be found in the Bibliography below (with English translations of non-English titles and many with brief annotations of content).
Van Gorsel, J.T., 2013. Bibliography of the geology of Indonesia and surrounding areas, 5th Edition, 1655p. (online at
Van Gorsel, J.T., 2014. Annotated bibliography of biostratigraphy and paleontology of Indonesia- SE Asia. Berita Sedimentologi 29, Supplement (29A), p. 3-337. (online at

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