The Devonian is a geologic period and system of the Paleozoic, spanning 60 million years from the end of the Silurian, 419.2 million years ago, to the beginning of the Carboniferous, 358.9 Mya. It is named after Devon, where rocks from this period were first studied; the first significant adaptive radiation of life on dry land occurred during the Devonian. Free-sporing vascular plants began to spread across dry land, forming extensive forests which covered the continents. By the middle of the Devonian, several groups of plants had evolved leaves and true roots, by the end of the period the first seed-bearing plants appeared. Various terrestrial arthropods became well-established. Fish reached substantial diversity during this time, leading the Devonian to be dubbed the "Age of Fishes." The first ray-finned and lobe-finned bony fish appeared, while the placoderms began dominating every known aquatic environment. The ancestors of all four-limbed vertebrates began adapting to walking on land, as their strong pectoral and pelvic fins evolved into legs.
In the oceans, primitive sharks became more numerous than in the Late Ordovician. The first ammonites, species of molluscs, appeared. Trilobites, the mollusc-like brachiopods and the great coral reefs, were still common; the Late Devonian extinction which started about 375 million years ago affected marine life, killing off all placodermi, all trilobites, save for a few species of the order Proetida. The palaeogeography was dominated by the supercontinent of Gondwana to the south, the continent of Siberia to the north, the early formation of the small continent of Euramerica in between; the period is named after Devon, a county in southwestern England, where a controversial argument in the 1830s over the age and structure of the rocks found distributed throughout the county was resolved by the definition of the Devonian period in the geological timescale. The Great Devonian Controversy was a long period of vigorous argument and counter-argument between the main protagonists of Roderick Murchison with Adam Sedgwick against Henry De la Beche supported by George Bellas Greenough.
Murchison and Sedgwick named the period they proposed as the Devonian System. While the rock beds that define the start and end of the Devonian period are well identified, the exact dates are uncertain. According to the International Commission on Stratigraphy, the Devonian extends from the end of the Silurian 419.2 Mya, to the beginning of the Carboniferous 358.9 Mya. In nineteenth-century texts the Devonian has been called the "Old Red Age", after the red and brown terrestrial deposits known in the United Kingdom as the Old Red Sandstone in which early fossil discoveries were found. Another common term is "Age of the Fishes", referring to the evolution of several major groups of fish that took place during the period. Older literature on the Anglo-Welsh basin divides it into the Downtonian, Dittonian and Farlovian stages, the latter three of which are placed in the Devonian; the Devonian has erroneously been characterised as a "greenhouse age", due to sampling bias: most of the early Devonian-age discoveries came from the strata of western Europe and eastern North America, which at the time straddled the Equator as part of the supercontinent of Euramerica where fossil signatures of widespread reefs indicate tropical climates that were warm and moderately humid but in fact the climate in the Devonian differed during its epochs and between geographic regions.
For example, during the Early Devonian, arid conditions were prevalent through much of the world including Siberia, North America, China, but Africa and South America had a warm temperate climate. In the Late Devonian, by contrast, arid conditions were less prevalent across the world and temperate climates were more common; the Devonian Period is formally broken into Early and Late subdivisions. The rocks corresponding to those epochs are referred to as belonging to the Lower and Upper parts of the Devonian System. Early DevonianThe Early Devonian lasted from 419.2 ± 2.8 to 393.3 ± 2.5 and began with the Lochkovian stage, which lasted until the Pragian. It spanned from 410.8 ± 2.8 to 407.6 ± 2.5, was followed by the Emsian, which lasted until the Middle Devonian began, 393.3± 2.7 million years ago. During this time, the first ammonoids appeared. Ammonoids during this time period differed little from their nautiloid counterparts; these ammonoids belong to the order Agoniatitida, which in epochs evolved to new ammonoid orders, for example Goniatitida and Clymeniida.
This class of cephalopod molluscs would dominate the marine fauna until the beginning of the Mesozoic era. Middle DevonianThe Middle Devonian comprised two subdivisions: first the Eifelian, which gave way to the Givetian 387.7± 2.7 million years ago. During this time the jawless agnathan fishes began to decline in diversity in freshwater and marine environments due to drastic environmental changes and due to the increasing competition and diversity of jawed fishes; the shallow, oxygen-depleted waters of Devonian inland lakes, surrounded by primitive plants, provided the environment necessary for certain early fish to develop such essential characteristics as well developed lungs, the ability to crawl out of the water and onto the land for short periods of time. Late DevonianFinally, the Late Devonian started with the Frasnian, 382.7 ± 2.8 to 372.2 ± 2.5, during which the first forests took shape on land. The first tetrapods appeared in the fossil record in the ensuing Famennian subdivisi
The Triassic is a geologic period and system which spans 50.6 million years from the end of the Permian Period 251.9 million years ago, to the beginning of the Jurassic Period 201.3 Mya. The Triassic is the shortest period of the Mesozoic Era. Both the start and end of the period are marked by major extinction events. Triassic began in the wake of the Permian–Triassic extinction event, which left the Earth's biosphere impoverished. Therapsids and archosaurs were the chief terrestrial vertebrates during this time. A specialized subgroup of archosaurs, called dinosaurs, first appeared in the Late Triassic but did not become dominant until the succeeding Jurassic Period; the first true mammals, themselves a specialized subgroup of therapsids evolved during this period, as well as the first flying vertebrates, the pterosaurs, like the dinosaurs, were a specialized subgroup of archosaurs. The vast supercontinent of Pangaea existed until the mid-Triassic, after which it began to rift into two separate landmasses, Laurasia to the north and Gondwana to the south.
The global climate during the Triassic was hot and dry, with deserts spanning much of Pangaea's interior. However, the climate became more humid as Pangaea began to drift apart; the end of the period was marked by yet another major mass extinction, the Triassic–Jurassic extinction event, that wiped out many groups and allowed dinosaurs to assume dominance in the Jurassic. The Triassic was named in 1834 by Friedrich von Alberti, after the three distinct rock layers that are found throughout Germany and northwestern Europe—red beds, capped by marine limestone, followed by a series of terrestrial mud- and sandstones—called the "Trias"; the Triassic is separated into Early and Late Triassic Epochs, the corresponding rocks are referred to as Lower, Middle, or Upper Triassic. The faunal stages from the youngest to oldest are: During the Triassic all the Earth's land mass was concentrated into a single supercontinent centered more or less on the equator and spanning from pole to pole, called Pangaea.
From the east, along the equator, the Tethys sea penetrated Pangaea, causing the Paleo-Tethys Ocean to be closed. In the mid-Triassic a similar sea penetrated along the equator from the west; the remaining shores were surrounded by the world-ocean known as Panthalassa. All the deep-ocean sediments laid down during the Triassic have disappeared through subduction of oceanic plates; the supercontinent Pangaea was rifting during the Triassic—especially late in that period—but had not yet separated. The first nonmarine sediments in the rift that marks the initial break-up of Pangaea, which separated New Jersey from Morocco, are of Late Triassic age. S. these thick sediments comprise the Newark Group. Because a super-continental mass has less shoreline compared to one broken up, Triassic marine deposits are globally rare, despite their prominence in Western Europe, where the Triassic was first studied. In North America, for example, marine deposits are limited to a few exposures in the west, thus Triassic stratigraphy is based on organisms that lived in lagoons and hypersaline environments, such as Estheria crustaceans.
At the beginning of the Mesozoic Era, Africa was joined with Earth's other continents in Pangaea. Africa shared the supercontinent's uniform fauna, dominated by theropods and primitive ornithischians by the close of the Triassic period. Late Triassic fossils are more common in the south than north; the time boundary separating the Permian and Triassic marks the advent of an extinction event with global impact, although African strata from this time period have not been studied. During the Triassic peneplains are thought to have formed in what is now southern Sweden. Remnants of this peneplain can be traced as a tilted summit accordance in the Swedish West Coast. In northern Norway Triassic peneplains may have been buried in sediments to be re-exposed as coastal plains called strandflats. Dating of illite clay from a strandflat of Bømlo, southern Norway, have shown that landscape there became weathered in Late Triassic times with the landscape also being shaped during that time. At Paleorrota geopark, located in Rio Grande do Sul, the Santa Maria Formation and Caturrita Formations are exposed.
In these formations, one of the earliest dinosaurs, Staurikosaurus, as well as the mammal ancestors Brasilitherium and Brasilodon have been discovered. The Triassic continental interior climate was hot and dry, so that typical deposits are red bed sandstones and evaporites. There is no evidence of glaciation near either pole. Pangaea's large size limited the moderating effect of the global ocean; the strong contrast between the Pangea supercontinent and the global ocean triggered intense cross-equatorial monsoons. The Triassic may have been a dry period, but evidence exists that it was punctuated by several episodes of increased rainfall in tropical and subtropical latitudes of the Tethys Sea and its surrounding land. Sediments and fossils suggestive of a more humid climate are known from the Anisian to Ladinian of the Tethysian domain, from the Carnian and Rhaetian of a larger area that includes the Boreal domain, the North
The Cretaceous is a geologic period and system that spans 79 million years from the end of the Jurassic Period 145 million years ago to the beginning of the Paleogene Period 66 mya. It is the last period of the Mesozoic Era, the longest period of the Phanerozoic Eon; the Cretaceous Period is abbreviated K, for its German translation Kreide. The Cretaceous was a period with a warm climate, resulting in high eustatic sea levels that created numerous shallow inland seas; these oceans and seas were populated with now-extinct marine reptiles and rudists, while dinosaurs continued to dominate on land. During this time, new groups of mammals and birds, as well as flowering plants, appeared; the Cretaceous ended with the Cretaceous–Paleogene extinction event, a large mass extinction in which many groups, including non-avian dinosaurs and large marine reptiles died out. The end of the Cretaceous is defined by the abrupt Cretaceous–Paleogene boundary, a geologic signature associated with the mass extinction which lies between the Mesozoic and Cenozoic eras.
The Cretaceous as a separate period was first defined by Belgian geologist Jean d'Omalius d'Halloy in 1822, using strata in the Paris Basin and named for the extensive beds of chalk, found in the upper Cretaceous of Western Europe. The name Cretaceous was derived from Latin creta; the Cretaceous is divided into Early and Late Cretaceous epochs, or Lower and Upper Cretaceous series. In older literature the Cretaceous is sometimes divided into three series: Neocomian and Senonian. A subdivision in eleven stages, all originating from European stratigraphy, is now used worldwide. In many parts of the world, alternative local subdivisions are still in use; as with other older geologic periods, the rock beds of the Cretaceous are well identified but the exact age of the system's base is uncertain by a few million years. No great extinction or burst of diversity separates the Cretaceous from the Jurassic. However, the top of the system is defined, being placed at an iridium-rich layer found worldwide, believed to be associated with the Chicxulub impact crater, with its boundaries circumscribing parts of the Yucatán Peninsula and into the Gulf of Mexico.
This layer has been dated at 66.043 Ma. A 140 Ma age for the Jurassic-Cretaceous boundary instead of the accepted 145 Ma was proposed in 2014 based on a stratigraphic study of Vaca Muerta Formation in Neuquén Basin, Argentina. Víctor Ramos, one of the authors of the study proposing the 140 Ma boundary age sees the study as a "first step" toward formally changing the age in the International Union of Geological Sciences. From youngest to oldest, the subdivisions of the Cretaceous period are: Late Cretaceous Maastrichtian – Campanian – Santonian – Coniacian – Turonian – Cenomanian – Early Cretaceous Albian – Aptian – Barremian – Hauterivian – Valanginian – Berriasian – The high sea level and warm climate of the Cretaceous meant large areas of the continents were covered by warm, shallow seas, providing habitat for many marine organisms; the Cretaceous was named for the extensive chalk deposits of this age in Europe, but in many parts of the world, the deposits from the Cretaceous are of marine limestone, a rock type, formed under warm, shallow marine circumstances.
Due to the high sea level, there was extensive space for such sedimentation. Because of the young age and great thickness of the system, Cretaceous rocks are evident in many areas worldwide. Chalk is a rock type characteristic for the Cretaceous, it consists of coccoliths, microscopically small calcite skeletons of coccolithophores, a type of algae that prospered in the Cretaceous seas. In northwestern Europe, chalk deposits from the Upper Cretaceous are characteristic for the Chalk Group, which forms the white cliffs of Dover on the south coast of England and similar cliffs on the French Normandian coast; the group is found in England, northern France, the low countries, northern Germany, Denmark and in the subsurface of the southern part of the North Sea. Chalk is not consolidated and the Chalk Group still consists of loose sediments in many places; the group has other limestones and arenites. Among the fossils it contains are sea urchins, belemnites and sea reptiles such as Mosasaurus. In southern Europe, the Cretaceous is a marine system consisting of competent limestone beds or incompetent marls.
Because the Alpine mountain chains did not yet exist in the Cretaceous, these deposits formed on the southern edge of the European continental shelf, at the margin of the Tethys Ocean. Stagnation of deep sea currents in middle Cretaceous times caused anoxic conditions in the sea water leaving the deposited organic matter undecomposed. Half the worlds petroleum reserves were laid down at this time in the anoxic conditions of what would become the Persian Gulf and the Gulf of Mexico. In many places around the world, dark anoxic shales were formed during this interval; these shales are an important source rock for oil and gas, for example in the subsurface of the North Sea. During th
The Pliocene Epoch is the epoch in the geologic timescale that extends from 5.333 million to 2.58 million years BP. It is the youngest epoch of the Neogene Period in the Cenozoic Era; the Pliocene is followed by the Pleistocene Epoch. Prior to the 2009 revision of the geologic time scale, which placed the four most recent major glaciations within the Pleistocene, the Pliocene included the Gelasian stage, which lasted from 2.588 to 1.806 million years ago, is now included in the Pleistocene. As with other older geologic periods, the geological strata that define the start and end are well identified but the exact dates of the start and end of the epoch are uncertain; the boundaries defining the Pliocene are not set at an identified worldwide event but rather at regional boundaries between the warmer Miocene and the cooler Pliocene. The upper boundary was set at the start of the Pleistocene glaciations. Charles Lyell gave the Pliocene its name in Principles of Geology; the word pliocene comes from the Greek words πλεῖον and καινός and means "continuation of the recent", referring to the modern marine mollusc fauna.
H. W. Fowler called the term Pliocene a "regrettable barbarism" and an indication that "a good classical scholar" such as Lyell should have requested a philologist's help when coining words. To summarize the usage of these "regrettable barbarisms" in the labelling of the Cenozoic era: with the understanding that these are all new relative to the Mesozoic and Paleozoic eras. In the official timescale of the ICS, the Pliocene is subdivided into two stages. From youngest to oldest they are: Piacenzian Zanclean The Piacenzian is sometimes referred to as the Late Pliocene, whereas the Zanclean is referred to as the Early Pliocene. In the system of North American Land Mammal Ages include Hemphillian, Blancan; the Blancan extends forward into the Pleistocene. South American Land Mammal Ages include Montehermosan and Uquian. In the Paratethys area the Pliocene contains the Romanian stages; as usual in stratigraphy, there are many other local subdivisions in use. In Britain the Pliocene is divided into the following stages: Gedgravian, Pre-Ludhamian, Thurnian, Bramertonian or Antian, Pre-Pastonian or Baventian and Beestonian.
In the Netherlands the Pliocene is divided into these stages: Brunssumian C, Reuverian A, Reuverian B, Reuverian C, Tiglian A, Tiglian B, Tiglian C1-4b, Tiglian C4c, Tiglian C5, Tiglian C6 and Eburonian. The exact correlations between these local stages and the ICS stages is still a matter of detail; the global average temperature in the mid-Pliocene was 2–3 °C higher than today, carbon dioxide levels were the same as today, global sea level was 25 m higher. The northern hemisphere ice sheet was ephemeral before the onset of extensive glaciation over Greenland that occurred in the late Pliocene around 3 Ma; the formation of an Arctic ice cap is signaled by an abrupt shift in oxygen isotope ratios and ice-rafted cobbles in the North Atlantic and North Pacific ocean beds. Mid-latitude glaciation was underway before the end of the epoch; the global cooling that occurred during the Pliocene may have spurred on the disappearance of forests and the spread of grasslands and savannas. Continents continued to drift, moving from positions as far as 250 km from their present locations to positions only 70 km from their current locations.
South America became linked to North America through the Isthmus of Panama during the Pliocene, making possible the Great American Interchange and bringing a nearly complete end to South America's distinctive large marsupial predator and native ungulate faunas. The formation of the Isthmus had major consequences on global temperatures, since warm equatorial ocean currents were cut off and an Atlantic cooling cycle began, with cold Arctic and Antarctic waters dropping temperatures in the now-isolated Atlantic Ocean. Africa's collision with Europe formed the Mediterranean Sea, cutting off the remnants of the Tethys Ocean; the border between the Miocene and the Pliocene is the time of the Messinian salinity crisis. Sea level changes exposed the land bridge between Asia. Pliocene marine rocks are well exposed in the Mediterranean and China. Elsewhere, they are exposed near shores. During the Pliocene parts of southern Norway and southern Sweden, near sea level rose. In Norway this rise elevated the Hardangervidda plateau to 1200 m in the Early Pliocene.
In Southern Sweden similar movements elevated the South Swedish highlands leading to a deflection of the ancient Eridanos river from its original path across south-central Sweden into a course south of Sweden. The change to a cooler, seasonal climate had considerable impacts on Pliocene vegetation, reducing tropical species worldwide. Deciduous forests proliferated, coniferous forests and tundra covered much of the north, grasslands spread on all continents. Tropical forests were limited to a tight band around the equator, in addition to dry savannahs, deserts appeared in Asia and Africa. Both marine and co
The Miocene is the first geological epoch of the Neogene Period and extends from about 23.03 to 5.333 million years ago. The Miocene was named by Charles Lyell; the Miocene is followed by the Pliocene. As the earth went from the Oligocene through the Miocene and into the Pliocene, the climate cooled towards a series of ice ages; the Miocene boundaries are not marked by a single distinct global event but consist rather of regionally defined boundaries between the warmer Oligocene and the cooler Pliocene Epoch. The Apes first evolved and diversified during the early Miocene, becoming widespread in the Old World. By the end of this epoch and the start of the following one, the ancestors of humans had split away from the ancestors of the chimpanzees to follow their own evolutionary path during the final Messinian stage of the Miocene; as in the Oligocene before it, grasslands continued to forests to dwindle in extent. In the seas of the Miocene, kelp forests made their first appearance and soon became one of Earth's most productive ecosystems.
The plants and animals of the Miocene were recognizably modern. Mammals and birds were well-established. Whales and kelp spread; the Miocene is of particular interest to geologists and palaeoclimatologists as major phases of the geology of the Himalaya occurred during the Miocene, affecting monsoonal patterns in Asia, which were interlinked with glacial periods in the northern hemisphere. The Miocene faunal stages from youngest to oldest are named according to the International Commission on Stratigraphy: Regionally, other systems are used, based on characteristic land mammals. Of the modern geologic features, only the land bridge between South America and North America was absent, although South America was approaching the western subduction zone in the Pacific Ocean, causing both the rise of the Andes and a southward extension of the Meso-American peninsula. Mountain building took place in western North America and East Asia. Both continental and marine Miocene deposits are common worldwide with marine outcrops common near modern shorelines.
Well studied continental exposures occur in Argentina. India continued creating dramatic new mountain ranges; the Tethys Seaway continued to shrink and disappeared as Africa collided with Eurasia in the Turkish–Arabian region between 19 and 12 Ma. The subsequent uplift of mountains in the western Mediterranean region and a global fall in sea levels combined to cause a temporary drying up of the Mediterranean Sea near the end of the Miocene; the global trend was towards increasing aridity caused by global cooling reducing the ability of the atmosphere to absorb moisture. Uplift of East Africa in the late Miocene was responsible for the shrinking of tropical rain forests in that region, Australia got drier as it entered a zone of low rainfall in the Late Miocene. During the Oligocene and Early Miocene the coast of northern Brazil, south-central Peru, central Chile and large swathes of inland Patagonia were subject to a marine transgression; the transgressions in the west coast of South America is thought to be caused by a regional phenomenon while the rising central segment of the Andes represents an exception.
While there are numerous registers of Oligo-Miocene transgressions around the world it is doubtful that these correlate. It is thought that the Oligo-Miocene transgression in Patagonia could have temporarily linked the Pacific and Atlantic Oceans, as inferred from the findings of marine invertebrate fossils of both Atlantic and Pacific affinity in La Cascada Formation. Connection would have occurred through narrow epicontinental seaways that formed channels in a dissected topography; the Antarctic Plate started to subduct beneath South America 14 million years ago in the Miocene, forming the Chile Triple Junction. At first the Antarctic Plate subducted only in the southernmost tip of Patagonia, meaning that the Chile Triple Junction lay near the Strait of Magellan; as the southern part of Nazca Plate and the Chile Rise became consumed by subduction the more northerly regions of the Antarctic Plate begun to subduct beneath Patagonia so that the Chile Triple Junction advanced to the north over time.
The asthenospheric window associated to the triple junction disturbed previous patterns of mantle convection beneath Patagonia inducing an uplift of ca. 1 km that reversed the Oligocene–Miocene transgression. Climates remained moderately warm, although the slow global cooling that led to the Pleistocene glaciations continued. Although a long-term cooling trend was well underway, there is evidence of a warm period during the Miocene when the global climate rivalled that of the Oligocene; the Miocene warming b
Daphoenus is an extinct genus of caniform carnivoran mammal of the family Amphicyonidae of the suborder Caniformia. Daphoenus inhabited North America from the Middle Eocene subepoch to the Middle Miocene subepoch 42—16.3 Mya, existing for 25.7 million years. Daphoenus was named by Joseph Leidy, its type species was Daphoenus vetus. It was assigned to Amphicyonidae by Carroll. Amphicyonids are discussed in Robert M. Hunt's article Global Climate and the Evolution of Large Mammalian Carnivores during the Later Cenozoic in North America. D. Vetus was the largest of the species. D. hartshornianus, D. lambei, D. ruber, D. socialis, D. transversus, D. vetus Daphoenus hartshornianus was named by Cope. It was recombined as Protemnocyon hartshornianus by Hatcher. A single specimen was measured by Roth in 1988 for estimated body mass. 6.79 kg. Daphoenus hartshornianus fossils found in Oligocene Orellan rocks in the Lower Nodular Zone, Pennington County, South Dakota are dated at ~33.4 Ma. Other sites include the Prairie Dog Creek Site and Warbonnet Creek Site, Sioux County, Nebraska ~33.4 Ma. Bartlett High Site, Dawes County, Nebraska ~33.2 Ma.
Babby Butte Site, Oglala Lakota County, South Dakota ~33.4 Ma—33.2 Ma. Daphoenus lambei fossils found in Eocene Duchesnean rocks at the Big Red Horizon Site, Presidio County, Texas are dated at ~38.4—38.3 Ma. Other sites include the Badwater Locality 20 Site and Wood Locality Site, Natrona County, Wyoming ~41.8 Ma. Lac Pelletier Lower Fauna Site, Saskatchewan ~42.3 Ma. A single specimen was measured by Roth in 1988 for estimated body mass. 4.84 kg. Paradaphoenus transversus was named by Matthew, its type specimen is AMNH 6851, a maxilla, it is not a trace fossil. It was recombined as Daphoenus transversus by Hunt. Daphoenus ruber was named by Stock, its type locality is California. A single specimen was measured by Roth in 1988 for estimated body mass. 5.94 kg. Daphoenus ruber fossils were found in Oligocene Arikareean rocks in the Tecuya Canyon Formation of Kern County, California with other mammal species and are dated at ~29.8—24.8 Ma. Daphoenus socialis was desinagnated as Pericyon socialis and named by Thorpe a genotype.
It is the type species of Pericyon. It was recombined as Daphoenus socialis by Hunt in 1998. A single specimen was measured by Roth in 1988 for estimated body mass. 13 kg. Daphoenus socialis fossils found in Oligocene Hemingfordian rocks at the Haystack Member, Wheeler County, Oregon are dated at ~24.3 Ma. and Kimberly Member, Grant County, Oregon with several other species of mammal such as Hesperocyon and Leptomeryx dating ~25.4—25.3 Ma. A single specimen was measured by Roth in 1988 for estimated body mass. 7.84 kg. Daphoenus, like the rest of its family, was called a "bear dog" because it had characteristics of both bears and dogs; these animals were about the size of the present day coyote. Daphoenus vetus was the largest species; the male skulls could reach up to 20 cm in length. Daphoenus had short legs, could only make quick sprints, it is thought that these animals ambushed their prey, did some scavenging. Fossil footprints suggested. Daphoenus dug burrows for their offspring to hide from their prey.
Daphoenus fossils found in late Oligocene rocks in the Great Plains are dated at ~28 Ma. Daphoenus survived to 27 Ma in the Pacific Northwest in the John Day beds of Oregon. Other sites include: Alachua Florida estimated at 31.1 -- 24.3 Ma. Tecuya Canyon, California 30.8—20.6 Ma. Haystack Member Formation, Wheeler County, Oregon 20.6—16.3 Ma. Lac Pelletier, Canada ~42 Ma
Gustafsonia is an extinct genus of carnivoran belonging to the family Amphicyonidae. The type species, Gustafsonia cognita, was described in 1986 by Eric Paul Gustafson, who interpreted it as a miacid and named it Miacis cognitus, it was subsequently considered to be the only species of the diverse genus Miacis that belonged to the crown-group Carnivora, within the Caniformia, it was assigned to the family Amphicyonidae. The type specimen or holotype was discovered in Reeve's bonebed, western Texas, in the Chambers Tuff Formation in 1986; the University of Texas holds this specimen. It is the only confirmed fossil of this species; the holotype is missing the mandible, upper canines, zygomatic arch. The remainder of the skull is damaged, but intact, it preserves the old style of many teeth having forty-two, as compared to most modern carnivorans in the low thirties. With the species of Miacis, the size of the certain teeth were decreasing, namely the foremost premolars; these teeth would be lost all together, resulting in the fewer number of teeth seen in most modern carnivorans feliforms, including extant hyenas, viverrids and the famously few-toothed felids.
Most members of Miacoidea have forty four teeth, so this advanced species has lost two bottom premolars. Though the upper canines are missing, these teeth can be reconstructed due to the foramen for the tooth root remaining intact; these canines were not long or short, though they were not stout or shaped for great stress. The molars of this species were small and not suited for grinding large amounts of material; the premolars show carnassial form that makes carnivorans unique and were good for slicing rather than crushing or grinding. The skull of G. cognita is low. In skull morphology, the African palm civet, Nandinia binotata takes the prize of looking most like its distant relative; the information core for the Digital Morphology library is generated using a state-of-the-art high-resolution X-ray computed tomographic scanner. This instrument is comparable to a conventional medical diagnostic CAT scanner, but with greater resolution and penetrating power; the CT scanner was custom built and optimally designed to explore the internal structure of natural objects and materials at mega- and microscopic levels.
This instrument is at the center of The University of Texas High-Resolution X-ray Computed Tomography Facility, a designated NSF-supported Multi-User Facility. Now in its seventh year, UTCT has scanned hundreds of rocks, meteorites and modern organisms, providing unique data and visualizations for a wide range of interests in education and research; the holotype of Gustafsonia cognita was made available to the University of Texas High-Resolution X-ray CT Facility for scanning by Dr. Timothy Rowe of The University of Texas at Austin, Department of Geological Sciences; the specimen was scanned by Richard Ketcham on 3 December 2007 along the coronal axis for a total of 1010 slices. Each 1024×1024-pixel slice is 0.08551 mm thick, with an interslice spacing of 0.08551 mm and a field of reconstruction of 40 mm. Surface views allow one to roll and yaw the specimen to see the fossil as though you were holding it in your hand. A second series is much more in depth slice movies, with coronal and sagittal slices of the fossil.
The last series is a dynamic cutaway from coronal and sagittal angles as well. The mass extinction of the Cretaceous–Paleogene extinction event left many ecological niches open and powerful competition to fill them. Species who had needed to be small and hide as a way of life had the requirement released and there was a strong pressure to get big and successful; the Paleocene was a period of struggle in which animals, occupied with avoiding being eaten by dominant species, namely the dinosaurs, were competing against each other to become the next dominant organism. Most mammals were many the size of rabbits, few exceeding the size of cats; the competition between the two groups of predatory mammals, the creodonts and the Carnivoramorpha, resulted in the better adapted creodonts occupying the position of top predators. As the Eocene continued, they were the dominant hunters and the carnivorans remained small, staying out of the way. Miacis lived during this period. Miacis belongs to the stem-group Carnivoramorpha that began to diversify during the middle and late Oligocene.
Two major lineages appeared, the caniformes. The tables began to turn and the creodonts were struggling during the late Oligocene when the carnivorans, while small, were well off. Open niches left by extinct predators were filled by the small carnivorans, they became larger and more diverse until their peak in the Miocene when the last of the creodonts had died out. Reeves bonebed is well known for its oreodonts Bathygenys; this oreodont, related to modern llamas, is common in the formation, being small for an oreodont at about thirteen pounds, it would have been hunted by Miacis regularly. The creodont Hyaenodon was present in the fossil bed, it is that this larger creodont hunted the larger oreodont Merycoidodon who, at over two hundred pounds, would have killed attacking Miacis; the large brontothere Menodus would have been far too large for Miacis, if anything would have been a danger for the small carnivore. Miacis would have avoided this species to avoid injury from massive perissodactylid.
The medium-sized herbivores Agriochoerus, Hyracodon and Leptotragulus, were again Hyaenodon prey and Mia