Diversity and paleoecology of actinopterygian fish from vertebrate microfossil localities of the Maastrichtian Hell Creek Formation of Montana
Published:January 01, 2014
Donald B. Brinkman, Michael G. Newbrey, Andrew G. Neuman, 2014. "Diversity and paleoecology of actinopterygian fish from vertebrate microfossil localities of the Maastrichtian Hell Creek Formation of Montana", Through the End of the Cretaceous in the Type Locality of the Hell Creek Formation in Montana and Adjacent Areas, Gregory P. Wilson, William A. Clemens, John R. Horner, Joseph H. Hartman
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Remains from vertebrate microfossil localities of the Hell Creek Formation provide a basis for evaluating the diversity and relative abundance of actinopterygians. Taxonomic composition of the basal actinopterygians of the Hell Creek Formation is increased by the recognition of a probable semionotiform designated Holostean A and a small-bodied amiid. A combined taxonomic/parataxonomic approach incorporating data from centra and tooth-bearing elements demonstrates that, at minimum, 17 kinds of teleosts are present in the Hell Creek assemblage. These include an ostariophysan with possible affinities to catfish and the first Cretaceous record of Priscacara.
Latitudinal patterns are identified using both presence/absence and relative abundance data. Melvius is interpreted as having a more southern distribution, while the probable semionotiform referred to as Holostean A has a more northern distribution. A greater abundance of Holostean A in the lower Hell Creek localities than in the upper Hell Creek localities is interpreted as a result of shifts in distribution in response to changes in climate.
A comparison of the relative abundances of fish in assemblages from the mid-Campanian Judith River Group and the Hell Creek Formation allows changes in the structure of aquatic paleocommunities to be identified. Amiids are of much greater abundance and the osteoglossomorph Coriops is of lower abundance in the Hell Creek Formation than they are in the mid-Campanian localities. In the Hell Creek Formation, teleosts are dominated by small-bodied taxa, but greater numbers of large taxa are present, suggesting that more teleosts occupied positions higher in the food web.