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J Hum Evol. 1997 Feb-Mar;32(2-3):105-32.

Wasatchian-Bridgerian (Eocene) paleoecology of the western interior of North America: changing paleoenvironments and taxonomic composition of omomyid (Tarsiiformes) primates.

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Museum of Paleontology, University of Michigan, Ann Arbor 48109-1079, USA.


Many changes in mammalian faunas occurred across the early (Wasatchian) to middle (Bridgerian) Eocene boundary as documented in the fossil record from the Western Interior of North America. One of the more striking changes took place within the tarsiiform primate family Omomyidae. In the early Eocene, omomyids were dominated, both in abundance and diversity, by the subfamily Anaptomorphinae. In the middle Eocene, the subfamily Omomyinae dominated in abundance, while both subfamilies were nearly equally diverse. Examination of a series of paleoecological indicators including leaf-margin analysis, cenogram analysis, ecological diversity analysis of trophic structure, the distribution and development of ancient soil horizons (paleosols), and the distribution of lacustrine and fluvial facies in the Bighorn and southern Green River basins of Wyoming reveals factors that may have influenced the composition of omomyid primates. Subtle but important changes occurred in paleoclimates with mean annual temperatures reaching Cenozoic maximums at the end of the Wasatchian into the early Bridgerian. Both land mammal ages were typified by subtropical, closed forested conditions, but the Bridgerian was probably more humid and wetter than the Wasatchian. Paleohabitats most commonly sampled in the Wasatchian of the Bighorn Basin are proximal and distal floodplains, while those of the Bridgerian in the southern Green River Basin are lake margins and proximal floodplains. Changes in paleoclimate may have triggered a wave of omomyine immigration near the end of the Wasatchian with omomyines entering into habitats previously occupied by anaptomorphines. Lake margin and proximal floodplain habitats are those most commonly occupied by omomyines in the Bridgerian with anaptomorphines being more common in basin margin and distal floodplain areas not commonly sampled. Omomyine immigration and sampling of differing paleohabitats are two possible explanations for the changes documented in omomyid diversity and abundance.

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