Series: Bulletin of the American Museum of Natural History (AMNH Bulletins) Volume: 208
By: Michael J Novacek(Author), I Ferrusquia-Villafranca(Author), John Joseph Flynn(Author), André R Wyss(Author), Mark A Norell(Author)
Fossil mammal and other vertebrate remains from the Lomas Las Tetas de Cabra in Baja California Norte, Mexico, provide an opportunity to examine the utility of continental scale geochronologies based on land mammal faunas. Early reports proposed a late Paleocene to early Eocene age for this fauna. Recent fieldwork and considerations of cumulative fossil discoveries strongly indicate that the Baja fauna represents the Wasatchian Land Mammal Age (early Eocene) and is strikingly similar to faunas of this age from the western interior of the United States. Wasatchian-age taxa represented in the Baja assemblage include Hyracotherium, Hyopsodus, Meniscotherium (also possibly from Clarkforkian assemblages), Diacodexis, and Prolimnocyon. Also present in the fauna are excellent specimens of Wyolestes and Esteslestes, a new genus of didelphid marsupial, as well as a badly distorted skull of a pantodont. An early Eocene age assignment is supported by analysis of the marine section adjacent to the Tetas de Cabra sequence. The marine organisms are consistent with a middle Ypresian (early Eocene) age assignment. Paleomagnetic analyses of both the terrestrial and marine sections also corroborate this age assignment. These new results substantiate the validity of the Wasatchian as a discrete temporal interval that can be applied at a continental scale. The Wasatchian thus fulfills the expectations for a mammal-based chronology. Similarities, rather than differences, between the Baja assemblage and other Wasatchian-age faunas is the dominant pattern. A choice among dispersal theories for the sources of Wasatchian mammals is not clearly indicated by the faunal evidence.
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