An Overview of Late Cretaceous Vertebrates from Alabama

April 2013
Bulletin of the Alabama Museum of Natural History;Apr2013, Vol. 31 Issue 1, p46
Academic Journal
Presented here is an overview of fossil vertebrate specimens collected from Upper Cretaceous strata (Early Santonian-Upper Maastrichtian) in Alabama. In total, 8,275 vertebrate specimens housed in 12 institutions are summarized here by geologic age, locality, year collected, institution, and taxon, using numbers of identified specimens (NISP). A total of 76 genera and 92 species of vertebrates are identified in this study. Taxa identified include Chondrichthyes (21 gen. and 30 spp.; NISP = 2,150), Actinopterygii (23 gen. and 25 spp.; NISP = 2,607), and Reptilia (32 gen. and 37 spp.; NISP = 3,174), and 344 specimens not identifiable to a higher taxonomic level. All Cretaceous vertebrate specimens have been collected from the following five stratigraphic units in Alabama: Unit 1, the Eutaw Formation; Unit 2, the Mooreville Chalk and Blufftown Formations; Unit 3, the Demopolis Chalk and Cusseta Sand Member of the Ripley Formation; Unit 4, the Ripley Formation (excluding the Cusseta Sand Member); and Unit 5, the Prairie Bluff Chalk and Providence Sand. Of these stratigraphic units, Unit 2 has the largest NISP (6,363), and Unit 4 has the smallest NISP (139). Of the 20 counties that have produced Cretaceous specimens, nearly 70% of the vertebrate fossils are from Dallas and Greene counties. Although preservation and collecting biases have a strong influence on the data presented herein, this study does provide a new perspective of the Cretaceous vertebrate diversity as well as the geographic and stratigraphic distributions of these taxa in Alabama.


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