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Evidence for an Early Sagebrush Ecosystem in the Latest Eocene of Montana

Nathan D. Sheldon and Jessica M. M. Hamer
The Journal of Geology
Vol. 118, No. 4 (July 2010), pp. 435-445
DOI: 10.1086/652660
Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/10.1086/652660
Page Count: 11
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Abstract

Abstract Late Eocene strata at Little Pipestone, Montana, preserve paleosols and an undiverse but abundant trace fossil assemblage dominated by adhesive meniscate burrows placed into the ichnogenera Taenidium. The assemblage as a whole is most consistent with the Scoyenia ichnofacies. The reconstructed paleohydrological and paleoenvironmental setting that results from the combination of sedimentological, paleopedological, and ichnological data is of a seasonally desiccated, well-aerated floodplain characterized by low flood frequency and intensity, slow sediment accumulation rates, and an overall subhumid/semiarid climate very similar to a modern sagebrush steppe. This would represent the oldest documented sagebrush steppe ecosystem in Montana.

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