GSA Annual Meeting in Denver, Colorado, USA - 2016

Paper No. 17-6
Presentation Time: 9:15 AM


KIM, Sora L., Earth and Environmental Sciences, University of Kentucky, 121 Slone Research Building, Lexington, KY 40508; Department of Geophysical Sciences, University of Chicago, 5734 S. Ellis Ave., Chicago, IL 60637, FIEMAN, Dina M., Department of Geological Sciences, University of Colorado, Boulder, 265 UCB, Boulder, CO 80309, ZEICHNER, Sarah S., Department of Geophysical Sciences, University of Chicago, 5734 S. Ellis Ave., Chicago, IL 60637 and EBERLE, Jaelyn J., CU Museum and Geological Sciences, University of Colorado, 265 UCB, Boulder, CO 80309,

The early Eocene marks a warm period in Earth’s history with greenhouse climate conditions at high latitudes. Fossils from the Eocene Arctic and Antarctic include temperate flora and fauna from marine and terrestrial ecosystems. These regions were warmer than today, but had dark winters with limited productivity, which likely affected physiology and growth. The most abundant marine vertebrate fossils in Eocene high latitude sites are sand tiger shark teeth, including Striatolamia macrota. These teeth yield body size and environmental data in their tooth size and δ18O values, respectively. Here, we compare size distributions from estuarine/deltaic and marine localities at high and mid-latitudes to assess effects of latitude and environment. Based on prior studies, the fossil shark-bearing Eocene strata of the Eureka Sound Fm. (ca. 52-53 Ma) on Banks Island in Canada’s western Arctic is inferred as a brackish, deltaic environment, whereas La Meseta Fm. (44-56 Ma) on Seymour Island, Antarctica is an open marine environment. We also chose two Gulf of Mexico sites: the early Eocene Tuscahoma Fm. at Red Hot Truck Stop (MS) and middle Eocene Stone Creek Fm. at Whiskey Creek Bridge (TX). We identified and measured anterior tooth crown height from S. macrota as a body length proxy (n > 140 per locality) and analyzed δ18OPO4 values from a subset of teeth (n≥5 per locality). There are differences in the mid-latitude sand tiger teeth size distribution (mean ± 1s), with smaller teeth in the estuarine Tuscahoma Fm. (11.6±3.4) than the marine Stone Creek Fm. (22.5±4.6); however, δ18O values suggest minimal temperature and salinity differences. In contrast, the two high latitude sites have overlapping size distributions; the Arctic Eureka Sound Fm. has a smaller range of tooth size (13.7±3.4) and low salinity whereas La Meseta Fm. teeth span a wider and larger range (17.1±6.6) and marine salinity. This size discrepancy could be due to segregated populations with juvenile nurseries or smaller individuals in estuarine/deltaic environments. Alternative explanations may be taphonomic or collecting bias. It is interesting to note the largest teeth were from the Antarctic La Meseta Fm. but the Stone Creek Fm. had larger mean tooth size suggesting a complex interaction between latitudinal and environmental effects.