Journal of Mammalian Evolution

, Volume 12, Issue 1, pp 23–51

Problems with Paleocene Palynozones in the Rockies: Hell's Half Acre Revisited


DOI: 10.1007/s10914-005-4864-x

Cite this article as:
McKenna, M.C. & Lillegraven, J.A. J Mammal Evol (2005) 12: 23. doi:10.1007/s10914-005-4864-x


The scheme of palynostratigraphic zonation most widely applied to interbasinal correlation of Paleocene rocks in the Rocky Mountain region of North America is fundamentally flawed. In its initial publication (based on juglandaceous fossil pollen), basic principles of biostratigraphy were violated, the taxonomy was typological, and the phylogenetic analysis was methodologically unsound. Youngest parts of Paleocene time were not sampled during development of the zonation, and the basal two zones involved strata of Cretaceous age. Implications of paleoenvironmental influences on sequences of palynostratigraphic occurrences were not considered. Subjective assertions at many levels remain neither verifiable nor falsifiable, because data from specimens utilized in the published formulation of Paleocene palynozones P1–P6 cannot be reliably tied in their defining area to identifiable stratigraphic sequences at known positions in actual rocks. A rigorous and geologically useful palynological zonation for Paleocene strata in the Rockies is possible, and its development should be pursued. Procedurally, however, any such scheme must (1) be constructed according to sound principles of biostratigraphy; (2) contain accurate information about locations and stratigraphic positions of all samples; and (3) provide publicly accessible and verifiable taxonomic data on compositions of all samples.


Biostratigraphy Correlation Cretaceous Eocene Fort Union Formation Paleocene Palynology Rocky Mountains Wyoming 

Copyright information

© Springer Science + Business Media, Inc. 2005

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of Geology and Geophysics, Dept. 3006The University of WyomingLaramieUSA
  2. 2.Departments of Geology/Geophysics and Zoology/Physiology, Dept. 3006The University of WyomingLaramieUSA
  3. 3.Department of Geology and Geophysics, Dept. 3006The University of WyomingLaramieUSA