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New shell material of a trionychid turtle from the Upper Cretaceous (upper Campanian) Fossil Forest Member of the Fruitland Formation of northwestern New Mexico represents a new species, Gilmoremys gettyspherensis. The material consists of right costals I–III, V, VI, and VIII, left costals V, VII, and VIII, the left half of the entoplastron, the right hypo- and xiphiplastron, and the left hyo-, hypo-, and xiphiplastron. The specimen shows great similarities to the Late Cretaceous (Maastrichtian) trionychid Gilmoremys lancensis (Gilmore, 1916) by having a relatively thin shell, carapacial sculpturing consisting of fine pits combined with extended sinusoidal ridges or grooves, free costal rib ends, presence of a preneural, a distally constricted costal I and distally expanded costal II, two lateral hyoplastral processes, low hyoplastral shoulders, and full midline contact of the elongate xiphiplastra, but differs by being smaller, having raised sinusoidal ridges on the carapace instead of grooves, less distally expanded costals II, and less elongate xiphiplastra. Phylogenetic analysis places Gilmoremys gettyspherensis n. sp. as sister to Gilmoremys lancensis near the base of the clade Plastomenidae. Like the majority of previously described plastomenid materials, the type specimen of Gilmoremys gettyspherensis n. sp. was collected from a mudstone horizon, suggesting a preference for ponded environments.
In North America, terrestrial records of biodiversity and climate change that span Marine Oxygen Isotope Stage (MIS) 5 are rare. Where found, they provide insight into how the coupling of the ocean–atmosphere system is manifested in biotic and environmental records and how the biosphere responds to climate change. In 2010–2011, construction at Ziegler Reservoir near Snowmass Village, Colorado (USA) revealed a nearly continuous, lacustrine/wetland sedimentary sequence that preserved evidence of past plant communities between ~140 and 55 ka, including all of MIS 5. At an elevation of 2705 m, the Ziegler Reservoir fossil site also contained thousands of well-preserved bones of late Pleistocene megafauna, including mastodons, mammoths, ground sloths, horses, camels, deer, bison, black bear, coyotes, and bighorn sheep. In addition, the site contained more than 26,000 bones from at least 30 species of small animals including salamanders, otters, muskrats, minks, rabbits, beavers, frogs, lizards, snakes, fish, and birds. The combination of macro- and micro-vertebrates, invertebrates, terrestrial and aquatic plant macrofossils, a detailed pollen record, and a robust, directly dated stratigraphic framework shows that high-elevation ecosystems in the Rocky Mountains of Colorado are climatically sensitive and varied dramatically throughout MIS 5.
The vertebrate record at the Ziegler Reservoir fossil site (ZRFS) near Snowmass Village, Colorado ranges from ~140 to 77 ka, spanning all of Marine Oxygen Isotope Stage (MIS) 5. The site contains at least 52 taxa of macro- and microvertebrates, including one fish, three amphibian, four reptile, ten bird, and 34 mammal taxa. The most common vertebrate is Ambystoma tigrinum (tiger salamander), which is represented by >22,000 elements representing the entire life cycle. The mastodon, Mammut americanum, is the most common mammal, and is documented by >1800 skeletal elements making the ZRFS one of the largest accumulations of proboscidean remains in North America. Faunas at the ZRFS can be divided into two groups, a lake-margin group dating to ~140–100 ka that is dominated by woodland taxa, and a lake-center group dating to ~87–77 ka characterized by taxa favoring more open conditions. The change in faunal assemblages occurred between MIS 5c and 5a (vertebrates were absent from MIS 5b deposits), which were times of significant environmental change at the ZRFS. Furthermore, the ZRFS provides a well-dated occurrence of the extinct Bison latifrons, which has implications for the timing of the Rancholabrean Mammal Age in the region.
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