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Diversity Patterns of Nonmarine Cretaceous Vertebrates of the Western Interior Basin

  • Jeffrey G. Eaton
  • James I. Kirkland
Part of the Topics in Geobiology book series (TGBI, volume 21)

Recent studies (e.g., Winkler et al., 1995; Archibald, 1996; Eaton et al., 1997) have suggested relationships between eustasy during specific intervals within the Cretaceous and early Tertiary (Albian-Aptian, Cenomanian-Turonian, Maastrichtian-Tertiary, respectively) and the evolution of vertebrate faunas. Predictions based on the studies of relatively narrow time intervals (4 million years or less) have not been tested as part of a consistent pattern over long-term eustatic fluctuations.

This paper represents a preliminary attempt at compiling data on the occurrences of nonmarine vertebrates within the Cretaceous Western Interior of North America. The authors have no illusions of this representing a conclusive study of the relationship between vertebrate evolution and eustatic or other environmental change, but rather a starting point. We have attempted to gather a reasonable sample of data regarding the distribution of nonmarine vertebrate orders, families, and genera spanning the Barremian through Maastrichtian stages of the Cretaceous. The Western Interior to date has not yielded any unequivocal records of older Cretaceous vertebrates. Nonetheless, these faunas span the remarkable development and fluctuations of a great epicontinental seaway that divided North America into two subcontinents for a span of almost 45 million years (e.g., Roberts and Kirschbaum, 1995). Such an event must have had enormous effects on the climate, the distribution of organisms, the food chain, and paleogeography. It seems reasonable to suggest that major perturbations of the paleoenvironment should have had some consequences in terms of the evolution of nonmarine communities.

Keywords

Late Cretaceous Vertebrate Paleontology Vertebrate Fauna Therian Mammal Transgressive Event 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.

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Copyright information

© Springer Science + Business Media B.V 2008

Authors and Affiliations

  • Jeffrey G. Eaton
    • 1
  • James I. Kirkland
    • 2
  1. 1.Department of GeosciencesWeber State UniversityOgden
  2. 2.Utah Geological SurveySalt Lake City

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