Abstract

We describe early Eocene (Wasatchian) occurrences of the isectolophid Homogalax, tapiroids Heptodon posticus, Heptodon cf. H. posticus, and Heptodon sp., as well as early middle Eocene (Bridgerian) fossils of the brontothere Palaeosyops from localities in the Margaret Formation of the Eureka Sound Group on Ellesmere Island, Nunavut, Arctic Canada. Their occurrence on Ellesmere Island considerably extends the geographic range of these taxa, previously known from mid-latitude localities in British Columbia (only Heptodon), the Western Interior of the United States, and Asia (Homogalax, Heptodon, and Palaeosyops). We also place the fossil localities near Bay Fiord on central Ellesmere Island into a refined lithostratigraphic framework based upon data from three measured stratigraphic sections. Our stratigraphic data confirm the presence of two, stratigraphically distinct fossil assemblages — a late Wasatchian-aged lower assemblage and a Bridgerian-aged upper assemblage that were previously hypothesized by others based on faunal differences — that are separated by a 478 m thick stratigraphic gap that appears to lack fossil vertebrates. From a paleoenvironmental perspective, occurrence of the tapiroid Heptodon in the Eocene Arctic corroborates an hypothesis put forward by others that tapiroids are proxies for densely forested habitats, although they were adapted to a range of temperatures including near (or at) freezing temperatures of Eocene Arctic winters. Further, Arctic occurrences of tapiroids and brontotheres imply that these typical mid-latitude ungulate mammals were adapted to Arctic environments, thereby increasing the probability of Trans-Beringian dispersal during early and middle Eocene time.

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