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Proc Biol Sci. 2009 Nov 7;276(1674):3829-33. doi: 10.1098/rspb.2009.1047. Epub 2009 Aug 12.

Seventy-five-million-year-old tropical tetra-like fish from Canada tracks Cretaceous global warming.

Author information

  • 1Royal Tyrrell Museum of Palaeontology, Drumheller, Alberta, Canada. mike.newbrey@gov.ab.ca

Abstract

Newly discovered fossil fish material from the Cretaceous Dinosaur Park Formation of Alberta, Canada, documents the presence of a tropical fish in this northern area about 75 million years ago (Ma). The living relatives of this fossil fish, members of the Characiformes including the piranha and neon tetras, are restricted to tropical and subtropical regions, being limited in their distribution by colder temperatures. Although characiform fossils are known from Cretaceous through to Cenozoic deposits, none has been reported previously from North America. The modern distribution of characiforms in Mexico and southern Texas in the southernmost United States is believed to have been the result of a relatively recent colonization less than 12 Ma. The new Canadian fossils document the presence of these fish in North America in the Late Cretaceous, a time of significantly warmer global temperatures than now. Global cooling after this time apparently extirpated them from the northern areas and these fishes only survived in more southern climes. The lack of early Cenozoic characiform fossils in North America suggests that marine barriers prevented recolonization during warmer times, unlike in Europe where Eocene characiform fossils occur during times of global warmth.

PMID:
19675010
[PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]
PMCID:
PMC2817284
Free PMC Article
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