The Eocene Green River Lake System, Fossil Lake, and the History of the North American Fish Fauna

  1. John J. Flynn,
  2. Malcolm C. McKenna,
  3. Daniel J. Chure,
  4. George F. Englemann,
  5. Lance Grande,
  6. Richard K. Stucky,
  7. Leonard Krishtalka,
  8. Mary R. Dawson,
  9. Philip D. Gingerich,
  10. William A. Clemens and
  11. Keith Rigby Jr.
  1. Lance Grande

Published Online: 19 MAR 2013

DOI: 10.1029/FT322p0018

Mesozoic/Cenozoic Vertebrate Paleontology: Classic Localities, Contemporary Approaches. Salt Lake City, Utah to Billings, Montana, July 19-27, 1989

Mesozoic/Cenozoic Vertebrate Paleontology: Classic Localities, Contemporary Approaches. Salt Lake City, Utah to Billings, Montana, July 19-27, 1989

How to Cite

Flynn, J. J., McKenna, M. C., Chure, D. J., Englemann, G. F., Grande, L., Stucky, R. K., Krishtalka, L., Dawson, M. R., Gingerich, P. D., Clemens, W. A. and Rigby, K. (1989) The Eocene Green River Lake System, Fossil Lake, and the History of the North American Fish Fauna, in Mesozoic/Cenozoic Vertebrate Paleontology: Classic Localities, Contemporary Approaches. Salt Lake City, Utah to Billings, Montana, July 19-27, 1989, American Geophysical Union, Washington, D. C.. doi: 10.1029/FT322p0018

Author Information

  1. Department of Geology, Field Museum of Natural History, Roosevelt Road at Lake Shore Drive, Chicago, IL 60605

Publication History

  1. Published Online: 19 MAR 2013
  2. Published Print: 1 JAN 1989

ISBN Information

Print ISBN: 9780875906089

Online ISBN: 9781118666968

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Keywords:

  • Eocene Fossil Lake;
  • Fossil Lake;
  • Green River Formation;
  • Lewis Ranch;
  • Thompson Ranch quarry

Summary

The Green River Formation consists of early Tertiary sediments deposited within an extinct complex of three large lakes, Lake Gosiute, Lake Uinta, and Fossil Lake. Spanning nearly 20 million years (Late Paleocene to Late Eocene), this was one of the world's longest lived great lake systems. within the formation there are a number of different fossil Lagerstätten (a term frequently used today to describe a “mother lode” or “bonanza horizon” of superbly preserved fossils). Due to recent advances in preparation, excavation and analytical techniques, and to the accumulation of much new material, the various well-preserved Early and Middle Eocene biotas of these Lagerstätten are giving us more information than ever before about paleoecology, historical biogeography, and the evolution of major groups of fishes. In particular, the fossil biota within the Green River Formation may contain new information about the origin of the modern freshwater teleost fauna of North America.

The composition of the known aquatic fauna of Fossil Lake is significantly different from those of Lake Gosiute or Lake Uinta, and some of these differences are explained below. Two of the most productive localities within the Fossil Lake deposits are described and discussed. These two localities, Thompson Ranch (an F-2 quarry) and Lewis Ranch (an F-1 quarry) are both within the early Eocene Fossil Butte Member of the Green River Formation. The Thompson Ranch locality is thought to represent a nearshore environment, and the Lewis Ranch locality an offshore environment. The F-2 and F-1 locality codes are explained below.