Abstract

The distributions of fossil crocodilians are used to examine North American continental paleoclimates for four time periods in the Cenozoic. Control groups provide a qualitative means of examining the completeness of the record and thus the validity of crocodilian patterns. By analogy with the range of the extant American alligator, Alligator mississippiensis, the patterns imply that mid- to high-latitude continental interiors during the Eocene and Miocene did not undergo seasonal temperature extremes as great as those observed in such areas today. This is compatible with the paleobotanical data. During both the late Oligocene and the Pleistocene (times of major glaciation), crocodilians were restricted to more maritime localities.

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