Abstract

We summarize faunal changes through the thickest and one of the most complete records of terrestrial vertebrates spanning Lancian ( approximately latest Cretaceous) and Puercan ( approximately earliest Paleocene) ages, the type Ferris Formation in the Hanna Basin, southern Wyoming. Observed faunal changes predate tectonic definition of local Laramide basins. Nonmammalian vetebrates exhibit no major changes in taxonomic composition below the Lancian-Puercan boundary; diversity of non-avian dinosaurs remains high within uppermost levels of the Lancian section. Nevertheless, dinosaurian extinction was not necessarily "catastrophic" within a biologically relevant interval. Primitive condylarths appear locally above the highest known dinosaurs, probably as immigrants. At least in this part of the North American western interior, the first evolutionary radiation of condylarths was subsequent to the last appearance of dinosaurs, not synchronous with or prior to it. Niche-partitioning among condylarths is first recorded near the boundary between Puercan Interval-zones Pu1 and Pu2 (early and middle Puercan time, respectively), by which time the first great mammalian diversification of the Cenozoic had begun. Major experimentations in dental morphology and increasing ranges of body sizes had developed within 400,000 years of the Lancian-Puercan boundary. We recognize no evidence suggesting that placental mammals were "recovering" from events that led to demise of the dinosaurs. The true diversity of marsupials and condylarths precisely at the Cretaceous-Tertiary boundary, throughout the western interior, remains unknown. We cannot, therefore, evaluate extensiveness of competition, if any, at that time among members of the two groups.

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