Fossil Mammals and the Rocks that Contain them at Fossil Butte, Wyoming – #UREES270 – 2018

Gunnell, Zonneveld, and Bartels, 2016, Stratigraphy, mammalian paleontology, paleoecology, and age correlation of the Wasatch Formation, Fossil Butte National Monument, Wyoming: Journal of Paleontology, v. 90, p. 981-1011

What’s it about?

This paper contains a discussion of the mammalian paleontology at Fossil Butte National Monument, Wyoming. The authors examined and identified at least 46 species of fossil mammals from 29 localities within rocks of the Wasatch Formation at Fossil Butte. Using techniques of stratigraphy, the authors correlated all the localities in order from oldest to youngest. Further, they used the species present and clues from the rocks themselves to interpret the ancient environment in which the mammals lived.

Why does it matter?

Fossil mammals are useful for assigning age and interpreting environments in ancient rocks. It is important to have a clear understanding of the chronological arrangement of the species and as well as adequate means to define species. This paper provides this for some early Eocene mammals from western North America.

Why did I read this?

This paper provides an example of the interrelationships of paleontology and geology. This sort of research is the very kind of research for my own Ph.D. and is also relevant to current projects that I’m working on. I cited the first author, Greg Gunnell, many times in my dissertation. This paper was one of the last he published before his death.

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