Arctic Alligators!

After an exciting summer looking for fossils in Wyoming and New Mexico, Matt and Adam are back in action with a Past Time Video!

Adam is pretty excited about a study based on fossils from the far northwest of Canada, but Matt thinks Adam is losing his touch and is a little too excited about a handful of scrappy fossils. It turns out the scraps are key to unraveling the complicated history of alligators and Adam reminds Matt that not all important fossils are beautiful skeletons.

Today alligators are found in China and North America. But how did these freshwater-bound animals cross between the continents? Some animals made the same trek during the Ice Age, but that wouldn’t have been a great time for alligators to hop continents. A new discovery from a 50 million-year-old site on Banks Island, Northwest Territories, Canada may show alligators crossed between Asia and North America very early in the Age of Mammals. The fossils may not be much to look at, but fossils don’t always need to be pretty skeletons to tell paleontologists important details about the ancient Earth.

Paper Citation: Eberle, JJ. Gottfried, MD. Hutchison, JH. Brochu, CA. (2014) First record of Eocene bony fishes and crocodyliforms from Canada’s West Arctic. PLoS ONE 9(5): e96079

Link to the paper: http://www.plosone.org/article/info%3Adoi%2F10.1371%2Fjournal.pone.0096079 

Filed under: Alligators, Arctic, Bering Land Bridge, Beringia, Biogeography, Bowfin, Canada, Crocodiles, Eocene, Fish, Fossils, Gar, Mammoth, Northwest Territories, Paleobotany, Paleogene, Paleontology, Pike, Pleistocene, Pollen

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