Abstract

The Pliocene interchange of North Pacific and North Atlantic marine faunas via the Arctic Ocean was long thought to have been a single episode of faunal exchange between the northern oceans that took place as soon as the Bering Strait first opened. New evidence implies that there were two northern migration events instead of one, and that the second phase of migration was much later than the first. The migration of Atlantic-Arctic mollusks into the Bering Sea and North Pacific when the Bering Strait first opened at 4.8–5.5 Ma constituted the initial phase of this interchange, but the abrupt appearance of North Pacific mollusks in the North Atlantic at 3.6 Ma postdated the first opening of the Bering Strait by 1.2–1.9 m.y. This second phase of trans-Arctic migration was also coeval with shoaling of the Central American seaway between North and South America. This late Pliocene trans-Arctic migration of North Pacific mollusks is evidence for the reversal of marine flow to northward through the Bering Strait, which was one consequence of the reorganization of Northern Hemisphere ocean circulation caused by substantial closure of the Central American seaway. This inferred causal link between the histories of the Beringian and Panamanian ocean gateways is in agreement with ocean circulation models.

You do not currently have access to this article.