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South America, Central America, the southeastern United States, Arctic Canada, Europe, Asia, and Africa all have been suggested as possible or probable biogeographic sources for taxa that appeared in the Western Interior of North America during the late Paleocene and early Eocene. Recent compilations of the geographic and temporal distributions of Paleocene and Eocene mammals and new data, derived primarily from recent collections from early Tiffanian (late Paleocene) quarries in the Crazy Mountains Basin of south-central Montana, permit tests of these hypotheses, particularly those involving a southern New World origin.

Significant first appearances of mammalian higher taxa in the Western Interior occur in the earliest Tiffanian, late Tiffanian, earliest Oarkforkian, and earliest Wasatchian. Those that appear in the earliest Tiffanian probably were derived from late Torrejonian forms in the same region. It appears, therefore, that there was not a pronounced geographic shift in North American mammalian faunas across the Torrejonian-Tiffanian boundary as suggested in some southern New World origin hypotheses. It has been suggested that Palaeanodonta, Dinocerata, and Notoungulata (represented by Arctostylopidae), which appear in the late Tiffanian in the Western Interior, originated in South America, but the evidence is inconclusive and highly controversial. New higher taxa that appear in the Western Interior at the beginning of the Clarkforkian, particularly Rodentia and Tillodontia, probably originated in Asia and dispersed across Beringia. Most of the suprageneric taxa that first appear at the beginning of the Wasatchian in the Western Interior (Perissodactyla, Artiodactyla, Adapidae, Omomyidae, and Hyaenodontidae) also probably appeared in Asia and Europe at essentially the same time; there is no evidence for heterochrony. Recent paleontological discoveries and paleogeographic evidence suggest that the ultimate origins of some or all of these taxa lay in either Africa or the Indian subcontinent. The latter biogeographic source has not been seriously considered previously.

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