First-ever description of microvertebrate fossil assemblages from Manitoba

In a groundbreaking study, Canadian vertebrate paleontologist Aaron Kilmury and a team of researchers from the University of Manitoba have unveiled the first-ever formal description of microvertebrate fossil assemblages from the late Cenomanian to middle Turonian periods in Manitoba, Canada. The research, titled “Microvertebrate Faunal Assemblages of the Favel Formation (late Cenomanian-middle Turonian) of Manitoba, Canada,” delves into the analysis of thousands of small-bodied fossils from southwestern Manitoba.

The findings are remarkable, with numerous fossil remains of fish, sharks, birds, and reptiles, including species of extinct sawfishes and guitarfish. However, due to incomplete preservation, several species remain yet-to-be-identified. An exciting revelation from this study is the striking resemblance of the microvertebrate assemblages in Manitoba to those found in other fossil localities of similar age in central North America, like South Dakota and Kansas.

This discovery supports the existence of a three-part vertebrate community zonation during the early to middle Turonian time period in the Late Cretaceous Western Interior Seaway, suggesting a complex ecosystem structure affected by extreme heat periods with fragmented marine communities and geographic range restrictions.

Importantly, Manitoba’s underrepresented Cretaceous fossil localities hold valuable data that can significantly enhance our understanding of marine biodiversity and biogeography in the Western Interior Seaway. The research wouldn’t have been possible without the generous support of landowners, who granted access to the fossil sites, as well as the contributions of Wayne Buckley and Brian Scott to museum collections.

Kilmury expressed gratitude for the research being Open Access, enabling anyone interested to delve into the captivating ancient life history of Manitoba and North America.

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