Masters Thesis

The Geology and Paleontology of a Vertebrate Bonebed from the Middle Eocene of Southern California

Eocene terrestrial vertebrate assemblages have been described from formations throughout Southern California, such as the Sespe Formation, the Mission Valley Formation, and “Member C” of the Santiago Formation. Vertebrate assemblages from these formations are similar but geographically distant from each other. In Orange County, outcrops of the Sespe Formation and undifferentiated Santiago Formation are in close proximity, but fossils from the Santiago Formation of Orange County have not been previously described. Paleontology mitigation monitoring of the Talega Housing Development in San Clemente, Orange County in 1998 excavated a vertebrate bonebed from the undifferentiated Santiago Formation and provides the first opportunity to study Eocene terrestrial vertebrates from the formation. The bonebed, named the Talega Bonebed, is approximately 10 cm thick and comprised of densely deposited, disarticulated skeletal elements with no obvious associations and varying states of preservation. the bonebed was excavated as 46 cubic meter blocks, five of which have been prepared. Thus far, the Talega Bonebed is a highly productive fossil stratum with 24 taxa identified to date. Due to the size of the bonebed and method of excavation, the Talega Bonebed is significant for the study of terrestrial vertebrates from late Uintan of Southern California as it has the potential to provide numerous specimens of macrovertebrates that are relatively rare in contemporaneous strata and provides the first opportunity to study the taphonomy of an Eocene-aged site from Southern California.

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