Abstract

Initial continental collision between India and Asia is thought to have caused significant changes to global climate and biota, yet its timing and biogeographic consequences are uncertain. Structural and geophysical evidence indicates initial collision during the early Paleogene, but sedimentary evidence of this has been controversial owing to the intense deformation and metamorphism along the suture zone. Modern orders of mammals that appeared abruptly on northern continents coincident with the global warming event marking the Paleocene-Eocene boundary are hypothesized to have originated on the Indian subcontinent, but no relevant paleontological information has been available to test this idea. Here we present new paleomagnetic, sedimentologic, and paleontologic evidence to show that the lower Eocene Ghazij Formation of western Pakistan records continental sedimentation and mammalian dispersal associated with initial India-Asia collision. Our results are consistent with the initial collision occurring near the Paleocene-Eocene boundary, but modern orders of mammals appeared later in Indo-Pakistan and thus did not likely originate on the Indian subcontinent.

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