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Eric De Bast and Thierry Smith (ed.) (2014)

Intercontinental dispersal of mammals during the Paleocene new data from Europe

Society of Vertebrate Paleontology, United States, vol. Program and abstracts 2014, pp 118, Society of Vertebrate Paleontology.

The Paleocene in general and in Europe in particular, is generally considered as an epoch with high endemism and few intercontinental dispersals of mammals, although some faunal interchange is known between Asia and North America, mainly from the Tiffanian-Clarkforkian boundary. Up to now, however, faunal interchange between Europe and North America during the Paleocene has almost never been demonstrated. The study of the early Paleocene fauna of Hainin (Belgium) reveals high endemism in European mammals at the end of the Danian (early Paleocene). The age of the fauna of Walbeck (Germany) is reevaluated and is likely to be Selandian (middle Paleocene), significantly older than previously suggested. Therefore, Walbeck is closer in age to Hainin than to the typical late Paleocene fauna of Cernay (France). However, the faunas from Walbeck and Cernay share many common genera that are not present in Hainin, showing a faunal turnover around the Danian-Selandian boundary in Europe, marked by the first occurrence of Plesiadapis, Arctocyon and Adunator in Walbeck, and of neoplagiaulacid multituberculates and Dissacus in Cernay. The three genera present in Walbeck are abundant and diversified in North America from the beginning of the Tiffanian, i.e., older than the expected age of Walbeck. Therefore, it is inferred that these genera dispersed from North America to Europe around the Danian–Selandian boundary, corresponding roughly to the Torrejonian–Tiffanian boundary. The absence of multituberculates in the fauna of Walbeck does not allow the drawing of definite conclusions about the moment of their dispersal, but it is likely that it happened at the same time as Plesiadapis and Arctocyon, because neoplagiaulacids are abundant and diversified during the whole Paleocene in North America. Similarly, Dissacus is very rare in Cernay, and could also have dispersed at the same time as others, but remained unnoticed because of its rarity. The Clarkforkian in North America is marked by massive arrival of taxa from Asia, among which are rodents, carnivorans, and tillodonts. The recent discovery of the latest Paleocene fauna of Rivecourt (France), where typical Paleocene taxa cohabit with rodents and a carnivoran, indicates that the large-scale dispersal event marking the Paleocene–Eocene boundary began in Europe about at the same time as in North America, with the arrival of rodents and carnivorans. The morphology of the new carnivoran species suggests that this group dispersed separately from Asia to Europe and from Asia to North America.
Peer Review, Impact Factor, RBINS Collection(s)
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