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Palaeobiodiversity and Palaeoenvironments

, Volume 93, Issue 4, pp 459–515 | Cite as

Mesozoic and Palaeocene lissamphibian assemblages of North America: a comprehensive review

  • James D. GardnerEmail author
  • David G. DeMarJr.
Review

Abstract

The Mesozoic and Palaeocene record of lissamphibians (i.e. anurans, caudates, gymnophionans and albanerpetontids) in North America is reviewed on the basis of over 400 published and unpublished occurrences from 61 geological formations. The record is heavily biased towards isolated bones, although some associated and articulated skeletons and rare tracks and trackways are known. Most of the localities are in the Western Interior: in central and southern Alberta and southern Saskatchewan, Canada, extending southwards through the USA and into northern Mexico. Outside of that region, records are limited to one Late Cretaceous age formation in Baja California and several Late Triassic and Cretaceous age formations in the eastern USA. Putative lissamphibians have been reported from the Late Triassic (middle Carnian and early Norian). Unambiguous lissamphibians are known from the Early Jurassic (Sinemurian–Pliensbachian), the Late Jurassic (Kimmeridgian–earliest Tithonian), the basal Cretaceous (late Berriasian–Valanginian) and a nearly continuous sequence extending from the Aptian through to the terminal Palaeocene. The Early Jurassic (Sinemurian–Pliensbachian) of Arizona documents the oldest global occurrences of an anuran (i.e. crown frog) and a stem caecilian; the latter also is the only North American fossil occurrence for Gymnophiona prior to the Quaternary. Late Jurassic (Kimmeridgian–earliest Tithonian) age deposits in Colorado, Utah and Wyoming contain a moderate diversity of anurans, urodeles (i.e. crown salamanders) and possibly stem salamanders. A basal Cretaceous locality (late Berriasian–Valanginian) in South Dakota contains a urodele and the first North American occurrence for Albanerpetontidae. Aptian/Albian age localities in Montana, Wyoming, Texas and Oklahoma contain a mixture of anurans, urodeles and albanerpetontids—that tripartite lissamphibian composition persists in North America through the remainder of the Cretaceous and intermittently through the Palaeocene. Most of the anurans are of uncertain familial affinities. The urodeles contain a mixture of extinct families (Scapherpetontidae and Batrachosauroididae) that were prominent through the Cretaceous into the early Palaeogene, along with the earliest appearances of several extant families, specifically sirenids in the Santonian, amphiumids and proteids in the late Maastrichtian and dicamptodontids and unequivocal cryptobranchids in the late Palaeocene. The albanerpetontid genus Albanerpeton was moderately diverse during the Cretaceous and Palaeocene, before vanishing from the North American record near the end of the Palaeocene. Temporal richness estimates of North American lissamphibians were calculated based on taxic and minimum lineage level occurrence data per 5 million year time interval beginning in the Early Jurassic and though to the end of the Palaeocene. The resulting richness curves demonstrate a general pattern of increasing richness leading up to the Cretaceous-Palaeogene (K-Pg) boundary, with peak values during the Campanian and Maastrichtian and a decline thereafter. The latter part of that pattern suggests higher extinction rates for lissamphibians across the K-Pg boundary compared to previous estimates, which we attribute to our coarser temporal binning, taxonomic additions and changes to some earlier taxonomic identifications. Although the overall richness pattern may at least partially reflect a true signal, it is heavily influenced by factors such as taphonomy, temporal gaps, fossil sampling and publication biases towards particular intervals and taxonomic groups; more detailed studies of all major lissamphibian clades are needed to corroborate these findings. This review highlights the strengths and weaknesses of the Mesozoic and Palaeocene portion of the North American lissamphibian record and provides a framework for future work.

Keywords

Albanerpetontidae Anura Caudata Gymnophiona Mesozoic North America Palaeocene Species richness curve 

Notes

Acknowledgements

Numerous colleagues directly and indirectly assisted us in compiling this review by providing access to collections and specimens, by sharing information about specimens and localities, by sending copies of relevant publications, by alerting us to occurrences that we were unaware of (or had forgotten about), by clarifying aspects of regional geology and technical matters and by answering our numerous questions. For those and other kindnesses, we particularly thank: Geb Bennet, Dennis Braman, Donald Brinkman, Michael Caldwell, Jonathan Calede, Matt Carrano, Daniel Chure, Richard Cifelli, William Clemens, Will Clyde, Cynthia Crane, Clive Coy, Robert Denton, Jeff Eaton, Jaelyn Eberle, David Eberth, Bruce Erickson, Susan Evans, Richard Fox, Terry Gates, Philip Gingerich, Donald Henderson, Amy Henrici, Patricia Holroyd, Charlotte Holton, Jack Horner, Logan Ivy, Jennifer Larsen, Tom Lipka, Hillary Maddin, Andrew Milner, Michael Newbrey, Randall Nydam, Dean Pearson, David Penney, Raymond Rogers, Jean-Claude Rage, Patty Ralrick, Cory Redman, Zbynek Roček, Craig Scott, William Simpson, Kieran Shepherd, Pavel Skutschas, Hans-Dieter Sues, François Therrien, Tim Tokaryk, David Varricchio, Yuan Wang, Gregory Wilson, Mark Wilson and Michael Wuttke. The SEMs were taken by George Braybrook at the University of Alberta. JDG’s work is supported by the Royal Tyrrell Museum. Travel funds from the Royal Tyrrell Museum Cooperating Society allowed JDG to visit other institutional collections and brought foreign colleagues to Canada to work on collaborative projects with JDG. Parts of this study are based on work supported by the National Science Foundation Graduate Research Fellowship to DGD under grant DGE-0718124. Financial support from the UCMP Welles Fund also allowed DGD to examine specimens in the UCMP collections that are relevant to this project. The Bureau of Land Management, Charles M. Russell Wildlife Refuge, Montana Department of Natural Resources and Conservation and Montana Fish, Wildlife, and Parks provided logistical support and special use permits for the collection of some of the vertebrate fossils documented here from Garfield and McCone counties, Montana. Finally, we thank Donald Brinkman and Cory Redman for their speedy and constructive reviews, as well as Sinje Weber for her exceptional patience and editorial guidance.

Supplementary material

12549_2013_130_MOESM1_ESM.doc (60 kb)
Appendix 1 Sources for taxonomic identifications of Triassic and Jurassic lissamphibians listed in Table 1 (DOC 60.5 kb)
12549_2013_130_MOESM2_ESM.doc (70 kb)
Appendix 2 Sources for taxonomic identifications of Early Cretaceous lissamphibians listed in Table 2 (DOC 70.5 kb)
12549_2013_130_MOESM3_ESM.doc (83 kb)
Appendix 3 Sources for taxonomic identifications of Late Cretaceous (middle Cenomanian to early–middle Campanian) lissamphibians listed in Table 3 (DOC 83 kb)
12549_2013_130_MOESM4_ESM.doc (125 kb)
Appendix 4 Sources for taxonomic identifications of Late Cretaceous (middle–late Campanian; Judithian NALMA) lissamphibians listed in Table 4 (DOC 125 kb)
12549_2013_130_MOESM5_ESM.doc (68 kb)
Appendix 5 Sources for taxonomic identifications of Late Cretaceous (late Campanian–early Maastrichtian [“Edmontonian” NALMA] and Campanian and Maastrichtian not assignable to NALMA) lissamphibians listed in Table 5 (DOC 68.5 kb)
12549_2013_130_MOESM6_ESM.doc (81 kb)
Appendix 6 Sources for taxonomic identifications of latest Cretaceous (late Maastrichtian; Lancian NALMA) lissamphibians listed in Table 6 (DOC 81 kb)
12549_2013_130_MOESM7_ESM.doc (38 kb)
Appendix 7 Sources for taxonomic identifications of latest Maastrichtian (Lancian NALMA) and/or earliest Palaeocene (Puercan NALMA) lissamphibians listed in Table 7 for the Bug Creek Anthills locality, Hell Creek Formation, McCone County, northeastern Montana, USA (DOC 38 kb)
12549_2013_130_MOESM8_ESM.doc (80 kb)
Appendix 8 Sources for taxonomic identifications of early Palaeocene (Puercan and Torrejonian NALMAs) lissamphibians listed in Table 8 (DOC 80 kb)
12549_2013_130_MOESM9_ESM.doc (79 kb)
Appendix 9 Sources for taxonomic identifications of late Palaeocene (Tiffanian and Clarkforkian NALMAs) lissamphibians listed in Table 9 (DOC 79 kb)
12549_2013_130_MOESM10_ESM.pdf (26 kb)
Appendix 10 Raw taxic and minimal lineage level richness data used in creating the temporal taxonomic richness curves (text Figure 11). Data compiled from text Tables 1–7 and 9 and the Supplementary Appendices 1–7 and 9 per 5-Myr time bin. Parenthetical values in Bin 33 under each raw estimate column are the actual numbers of taxonomic occurrences whereas each larger value is the total number of actual occurrences plus the inferred species range through occurrences. The thick black horizontal line between bins 34 and 35 represents the K-Pg boundary, which for the purposes of our study was set at 65.6 Ma (see “Methodology and Conventions” in text for details and justification). For main body of corresponding table, see accompanying file. (PDF 26 kb)
12549_2013_130_MOESM11_ESM.pdf (184 kb)
Appendix 11 Summary of locality approximate ages and calculations. The column headings Table, Figure, and Locality # correspond to the faunal lists (Tables 1–9), locality maps (Figs. 3–10), and locality numbers used in those tables and figures in the text and in the supplementary appendices (1–9). Calculations used for estimating the approximate age (Myr) of each locality is provided in the last column. Temporal bin # refers to a particular 5-myr time bin. The asterisks (*) at localities 4 (Cochrane 2, south-central Alberta, Canada; Paskapoo Formation) and 10 (Highway Blowout locality, Carter County, southeastern Montana, USA; Tongue River Formation) listed under Table 9 denote that the age estimates of these localities places them in the older bin of Tiffanian localities rather than with the other younger bin of Tiffanian localities. For main body of corresponding table see accompanying file. (PDF 183 kb)
12549_2013_130_MOESM12_ESM.pdf (89 kb)
Appendix 12 Numerical summary of published, unpublished, and combined North American Mesozoic and Palaeocene lissamphibian taxonomic records. Only time bins containing taxonomic records are summarised here (see Appendices 10 and 11 for additional bins). Values loosely reflect ‘sampling’ intensity or research effort afforded per 5-Myr time bin and are used as a means to roughly estimate sampling bias. Unpublished records refer to our personal observations documented in this paper. Total records are the combined numbers of nonrepeating published and unpublished records per bin. Records compiled from text Tables 1–9 and Appendices 1–9. The thick black horizontal line between bins 34 and 35 represents the K-Pg boundary, which for the purposes of our study was set at 65.6 Ma (see “Methodology and Conventions” in text for details and justification). Bug Creek Anthills (BCA) record values are summarised, but were not incorporated into the ‘sampling’ estimate (see text for details). For main body of corresponding table see accompanying file. (PDF 89 kb)

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© Senckenberg Gesellschaft für Naturforschung and Springer-Verlag Berlin Heidelberg 2013

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Royal Tyrrell Museum of PalaeontologyDrumhellerCanada
  2. 2.Department of BiologyUniversity of WashingtonSeattleUSA

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