Abstract

Published estimates on the paleoclimate of the Florissant fossil beds site of Colorado (34.1 Ma) have led to extremely different estimates of paleoelevation. The purpose of this paper is to review the paleoclimate methods used and to add the coexistence approach (CA) method to estimate paleotemperature for the Florissant site. The basis of the CA method is the dependence on overlapping climatic requirements for different taxa in the flora and their nearest living relatives. These relationships tie the fossil identities to the actual plant habitats and climatic requirements of close relatives. Based on the CA method, we conclude that the mean annual temperature ranged between 14.3 and 18.2 °C. These results support the conclusions offered by several other studies that the Florissant was a warm temperate to subtropical flora, and they are consistent with recent conclusions by structural geologists as well as other studies, indicating that the Florissant site was deposited at a relatively low elevation, probably between 1 and 1.5 km.

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