• Depositional Environments Of The Late Cretaceous (Maastrichtian) Dinosaur-Bearing Prince Creek Formation: Colville River Region, North Slope, Alaska

      Flaig, Peter Paul; McCarthy, Paul J. (2010)
      The Prince Creek Formation contains first-order meandering trunk channels, second-order meandering distributary channels, third-order fixed anastomosed(?) distributary channels, crevasse splays, levees, lakes, ponds, swamps, paleosols, and ashfall deposits. Trampling by dinosaurs is common. Most deposition occurred on crevasse splay-complexes adjacent to trunk channels. Rhythmically-repeating coarse-to fine-grained couplets in inclined heterolithic stratification suggest tidal-influence in channels. Cumulative to compound soils similar to Entisols, Inceptisols, and potential acid sulfate soils formed on levees, point bars, crevasse splays, and on the margins of lakes and swamps. Frequent overbank flooding is evidenced by silt and sand dispersed throughout paleosol profiles and fluctuations with depth in several molecular ratios. Drab colors, organics, siderite, depletion coatings, and zoned peds indicate waterlogged, anoxic conditions while ferruginous and manganiferous features, insect and worm burrows, and rare illuvial clay coatings and infillings suggest drying and oxidation of some soils. Repeated wetting and drying is tied to fluctuating river discharge. Marine influence is evidenced by jarosite, pyrite, and gypsum which become increasingly common up-section near the contact with the shallow-marine Schrader Bluff Formation. Pollen includes Peridinioid dinocysts; algae; projectates; Wodehouseia edmontonicola; pollen from lowland trees, shrubs and herbs; Bisaccates; fern and moss spores; and fungal hyphae and indicates that all strata are Early Maastrichtian and that sediments become progressively younger to the north. 40Ar/39Ar analysis of a tuff returned an age of 69.2 +/- 0.5 Ma. World-class dinosaur bonebeds are encased in muddy overbank alluvium overlying floodplains. No concentration of bone was found in channels. Bonebeds are laterally extensive except where truncated by distributaries. At the Sling Pont, Liscomb, and Byers bonebeds alluvium encasing bone exhibits a bipartite division of flow and a massive mudstone facies containing flow-parallel plant fragments that "float" in a mud matrix suggesting deposition by fine-grained hyperconcentrated flows. Exceptional floods driven by seasonal snowmelt in the Brooks Range increased suspended sediment concentrations, generating hyperconcentrated overbank flows that killed and buried scores of juvenile dinosaurs occupying this high-latitude coastal plain. This unique killing mechanism likely resulted from fluctuating discharge tied to extreme seasonality brought about by the near polar latitude of northern Alaska in the Late Cretaceous.
    • Paleoecology and ecomorphology of the giant short-faced bear in Eastern Beringia

      Matheus, Paul Edward; Guthrie, R. Dale (1997)
      The short-faced bear (Arctodus simus) was a widespread Tremarctine bear indigenous to North America until its extinction around 11,500 BP. Arctodus inhabited Pleistocene ice-free refugia in Eastern Beringia (the northwestern limit of its range) until at least 20,000 BP. Because of its gracile, long-legged build and extremely large size, most paleontologists believe this bear was a high-speed pursuit predator which had preyed on the largest herbivores of Pleistocene North America. Alternatively, energetic arguments have been used to suggest that Arctodus was too large to be carnivorous and evolved its large size within an herbivorous or omnivorous niche. To test these competing hypotheses, I reconstructed aspects of Arctodus' trophic position and paleodiet by analyzing stable isotope ratios ($\delta\ \sp{13}$C and $\delta\ \sp{15}$N) in bone collagen extracted from east Beringian fossils. Other bears and carnivores from Beringia were analyzed to help interpret the results. Isotopes reveal that Arctodus was highly carnivorous, it fed on herbivores which consumed C3 vegetation, and it did not eat salmon. The herbivore/omnivore hypothesis is thus rejected. Predatory hypotheses predict that we should find certain morphological features in a predatory bear which would enhance one or more of the following skills: top running speed, acceleration, or maneuverability at high speeds. I re-analyzed the postcranial morphology of Arctodus and used data on running speed and bone strength in other large mammals to show that a bear the size of Arctodus with long, gracile limbs would not have been able to endure the extreme dynamic forces incurred during predatory activities. Instead, Arctodus' morphology and body size indicate it had evolved to maximize locomotor efficiency using a pacing gait. I suggest that Arctodus evolved as a specialized scavenger adapted to cover an extremely large home range in order to seek out, procure, and defend large-mammal carcasses from other carnivores. By modeling herbivore populations and their mortality, I show that enough carcass biomass was being produced in Pleistocene Beringia to make this scavenging niche energetically feasible. The model helps show that Arctodus' extinction probably is best tied to a reduction of year-round carcasses on the landscape, a condition which arose in the Holocene when the herbivore fauna became less diverse and began to experience more seasonal mortality.