Late Eocene penguins from West Antarctica: systematics and biostratigraphy
C. P. Tambussi, C. I. Acosta Hospitaleche, M. A. Reguero, S. A. Marenssi, 2006. "Late Eocene penguins from West Antarctica: systematics and biostratigraphy", Cretaceous–Tertiary High-Latitude Palaeoenvironments: James Ross Basin, Antarctica, J. E. Francis, D. Pirrie, J. A. Crame
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Penguins are by far the most dominant group of marine vertebrates in the Eocene La Meseta Formation (Seymour Island, Antarctica). We analysed the penguin fauna recovered there from both a systematic and a biostratigraphic point of view. We have added two new species (Tonniornis mesetaensis and T. minimum) and have defined a biostratigraphic unit, the Anthropornis nordenskjoeldi Biozone. This interval of strata, easily distinguishable by the numerous occurrence of penguin bones and the phosphatic brachiopod Lingula, is located nearly 30–35 m below the top of the 145 m-thick Submeseta Allomember. The highest morphological and taxonomic penguin diversity living sympatrically (organisms that live simultaneously in the same place), including giant and tiny species, is documented in this interval. Fossil penguins bones studied in this paper, recovered from rocks interpreted as shallow-marine deposits, accumulated between 34.2 and 36.13 Ma (late Late Eocene).
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High-latitude settings are sensitive to climatically driven palaeoenvironmental change and the resultant biotic response. Climate change through the peak interval of Cretaceous warmth, Late Cretaceous cooling, onset and expansion of the Antarctic ice sheet, and subsequently the variability of Neogene glaciation, are all recorded within the sedimentary and volcanic successions exposed within the James Ross Basin, Antarctica. This site provides the longest onshore record of Cretaceous–Tertiary sedimentary and volcanic rocks in Antarctica and is a key reference section for Cretaceous–Tertiary global change. The sedimentary succession is richly fossiliferous, yielding diverse invertebrate, vertebrate and plant fossil assemblages, allowing the reconstruction of both terrestrial and marine systems. The papers within this volume provide an overview of recent advances in the understanding of palaeoenvironmental change spanning the mid-Cretaceous to the Neogene of the James Ross Basin and related biotic change, and will be of interest to many working on Cretaceous and Tertiary palaeoenvironmental change.