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Vertebrate Paleontology of the Cloverly Formation (Lower Cretaceous), I: Faunal Composition, Biogeographic Relationships, and Sampling Article uri icon


  • Oreska, Matthew P. J., Carrano, Matthew T. and Dzikiewicz, Katherine M.


  • The vertebrate fauna of the Cloverly Formation has been studied for more than 75 years, but remains poorly sampled and incompletely understood. We undertook an extensive survey of the formation that resulted in the discovery of several new, highly productive vertebrate microfossil bonebeds (VMBs). Comprehensive sampling of these and other sites has nearly doubled the known vertebrate diversity of the Cloverly Formation. In addition to the comparatively well-known dinosaurs, this augmented faunal list includes hybodontoid sharks, numerous bony fishes, three lissamphibian lineages, lizards, multiple crocodylians, and several new mammal occurrences. The known Cloverly vertebrate fauna now more closely resembles those of other late Early Cretaceous formations in North America, indicating broad similarities across wide geographic areas at this time. In addition, this work underscores the important role VMBs can play in areas previously studied primarily through surface prospecting and quarrying, especially for assessing paleoecology and species diversity.

publication date

  • 2013