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Vertebrate paleontology

Elsevier Science & Technology
DOI: 10.1016/s1571-0866(03)01025-x
  • Biology
  • Earth Science


Publisher Summary This chapter presents some paleontological highlights of vertebrates from the individual states and regions of North America. Glacial-interglacial shifts in climate rearranged the composition of plant communities and that of vertebrate faunas. Ranges of mammalian species move together through time, suggesting that some communities do remain coherent. DNA from permafrost-preserved bones of brown bears in northwestern North America (eastern Beringia), integrated with modern samples, reveals a very complex history of local extinctions, reinvasions, and possible competition with the extinct short-faced bear (Arctodus). Morphological studies can be effectively combined with ancient DNA comparisons to better distinguish simple phenotypic shifts from fundamental evolutionary changes. Electron-spin resonance dating of enamel, optically stimulated resonance dating of sand grains, U-series dating of bone, and young age ranges of 40Ar–39Ar dating, each may become a more reliable clock for the great range of environments studied by Quaternary vertebrate paleontologists.

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