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Chinese Fossil Vertebrates

Chinese Fossil Vertebrates

Spencer G. Lucas
Copyright Date: 2001
Pages: 320
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  • Book Info
    Chinese Fossil Vertebrates
    Book Description:

    This book is a comprehensive, chronologically ordered review of China's vertebrate fossil record. It also presents a history of vertebrate paleontological studies in China and an entrée to some important issues of systematics, evolutionary history, paleoecology, taphonomy, and functional anatomy best elucidated by China's fossils.

    eISBN: 978-0-231-50461-4
    Subjects: Paleontology, Biological Sciences

Table of Contents

  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-vi)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. vii-x)
  3. Preface
    (pp. xi-xiv)
    Spencer Lucas
  4. Chapter 1 Introduction
    (pp. 1-6)

    China is the world’s third largest nation. Its vast land area contains extensive exposures of sedimentary rocks, many of nonmarine origin. Serious scientific study of China’s vertebrate fossil record began in the last century. This record extends back to the Early Cambrian, nearly 550 million years. Today, Chinese vertebrate fossils represent one of the most extensive and important records of vertebrate evolution. This book provides a comprehensive review of Chinese fossil vertebrates, reviewed in temporal (stratigraphic) order.

    The People’s Republic of China (hereafter, simply referred to as China) has a land area of nearly 9.6 million km², which is 6.5...

  5. Chapter 2 History of Vertebrate Paleontological Studies
    (pp. 7-30)

    Fossil vertebrates have been collected in China and studied scientifically for more than a century. This work began with the serendipitous discoveries by early Western explorers and geologists in nineteenth century China and the idiosyncratic purchases of fossil bones from Chinese druggists by colonial envoys and naturalists. The early decades of the twentieth century saw Westerners pursue the vast vertebrate paleontological wealth of China on a grand scale, both as steady, colonial fossil collectors and as members of the fabled Central Asiatic Expeditions of the American Museum of Natural History headed by Roy Chapman Andrews.

    The Second World War and...

  6. Chapter 3 Cambrian-Silurian
    (pp. 31-46)

    During the early Paleozoic, China consisted of at least six separate microplates, which, by Silurian time, were north of the eastern part of Gondwana and mostly north of the paleoequator (see figure 3-1). These microplates are the Tarim, north China, south China, Indochina, Sibumasu (or Shan-Thai), and Tibetan blocks. Some of these microplates consisted of one or more smaller microplates (or terranes), although there is some debate about exactly how many microplates were present. For example, some paleontologists have divided the south China block into separate Hunan and Yangtze terranes, though the general similarity of vertebrate faunas in these terranes...

  7. Chapter 4 Devonian
    (pp. 47-64)

    The Devonian paleogeography of China resembles the Silurian with one major exception—the counterclockwise rotation of the Tarim, south China and north China blocks so that Tarim is northwest of south China and north China is north of south China (see figure 4-1). The Silurian endemism of most Chinese vertebrates continued into the Devonian, but by Middle-Late Devonian time many cosmopolitan vertebrates evolved to live side-by-side with many endemics.

    Devonian rocks are found in three main regions of China (see figure 4-2) (Yang et al. 1981; H. Hou and Wang 1985). North of the Inshan-Tienshan Mountains (latitude 41°–42°N) are...

  8. Chapter 5 Carboniferous
    (pp. 65-70)

    By the Late Carboniferous, the Pangean supercontinent had mostly amalgamated (Veevers 1988). However, most of the microplates of China were very loosely connected to Pangea, forming a sort of archipelago at its extreme eastern end (see figure 5-1). A broad Tethys Ocean separated the Chinese microplates from most of Pangea, which lay well to the west. The Tarim and north China blocks were close to the Kazakstan block to the west-northwest, but a wide ocean expanse isolated the Chinese blocks on the south.

    Strata and fossils of Carboniferous age are widely distributed and abundant in China (see figure 5-2). The...

  9. Chapter 6 Permian
    (pp. 71-88)

    During the Early to Middle Permian, the north and south China blocks were in tropical latitudes separated from the main Pangean land mass by a nearly closed Tethys marine basin (see figure 6-1). The Tarim block bridged the water gap to the northeastern edge of Pangea (Kazakstan and Siberia) to the north, whereas no apparent direct land connection existed between south China and Gondwana to the south. By Late Permian time, however, the amalgamation of Pangea proceeded by the northeastward drift of the two principal China blocks, opening Tethys to Panthalassa to the east, and joining north and south China...

  10. Chapter 7 Triassic
    (pp. 89-120)

    During the Triassic Period, the microplates of China joined the easternmost portion of the assembled Pangean supercontinent (see figure 7-1). On the Kazakstan and north China blocks, nonmarine deposition took place, but the south China block remained a site of marine deposition (e.g., D. Qiu 1990). Today, this separation is well delineated by an east-west line drawn through the Kunlun Shan (Xinjiang) and the Dabie Shan (Hubei-Anhui), which essentially separates nonmarine Triassic rocks to the north from marine Triassic rocks to the south.

    Chinese Triassic vertebrate fossils are mostly found in the northern part of the country and are almost...

  11. Chapter 8 Jurassic
    (pp. 121-156)

    During the Jurassic, China was part of eastern Pangea. Marine deposition took place in southwestern China along the northern margin of Tethys, but the rest of the country was vast terrestrial lowland (see figure 8-1). Extensive volcanism took place in eastern China during the Late Jurassic and continued into the Cretaceous (Z. Xu 1990).

    Jurassic vertebrate fossils have a much broader geographic distribution in China than do Triassic vertebrate fossils. This is because sedimentary deposition across China was almost totally nonmarine during the Jurassic (see figure 8-1). Thick and extensive accumulations of nonmarine Jurassic strata in southern, northwestern, north-central, and...

  12. Chapter 9 Cretaceous
    (pp. 157-194)

    China was almost totally emerged during the Cretaceous, unlike most other vast land areas, which were periodically submerged under epicontinental seas. Nonmarine deposition was focused mostly on the same depositional centers that existed during the Jurassic, the Junggur, Ordos, Sichuan, and northeastern China basins, as well as the Nanxiong basin of Guangdong (see figure 9-1). Most Chinese terrestrial Cretaceous strata are red beds that have an abundant fossil flora and fauna (e.g., P. Chen 1983). Early Cretaceous vertebrates are well represented in China, especially in the Junggur basin of Xinjiang (Shen and Mateer 1992). The “middle” Cretaceous (Albian-Turonian) record however,...

  13. Chapter 10 Paleogene
    (pp. 195-232)

    Paleogene rocks of China are widespread (see figure 10-1) and contain numerous mammal-dominated fossil assemblages. Nonmarine red beds and other siliciclastic deposits accumulated as the result of fluvial and lacustrine deposition in numerous basins across China. As in the Cretaceous, volcanism was confined to eastern China. No marine deposition took place in China during the Paleogene, and much of the overall tectonism was a continuation of Cretaceous movements.

    The Indo-Pakistani subcontinent collided with southern Asia during the Paleogene, commencing the uplift of the Himalayas and Tibetan Plateau (Himalayan orogeny). However, during the Paleogene this uplifting had just begun, so warm...

  14. Chapter 11 Miocene-Pliocene
    (pp. 233-258)

    The early-middle Neogene encompasses two epochs, Miocene and Pliocene, and lasted about 23 million years, from 24 Ma to 1.8 Ma (Berggren et al. 1995; Berggren 1998). China has a rich and extensive fossil record of Miocene-Pliocene vertebrates, dominated by mammals. Like the Paleogene record, this record is most easily reviewed by organizing it into a succession of land-mammal “ages.” It documents a complex pattern of endemism overlain by immigration events from Africa, southern Asia (the Indo-Pakistani subcontinent), Europe and North America. Questions of paleozoogeography thus dominate analysis of China’s Miocene-Pliocene mammals.

    Miocene-Pliocene strata have a very broad distribution in...

  15. Chapter 12 Pleistocene
    (pp. 259-290)

    The Pleistocene is the next to last Neogene epoch. The last is the Holocene. By international agreement, the Pleistocene began 1.8 Ma and ended 10,000 years ago (Berggren et al. 1998). However, in China the beginning of the Pleistocene is still a subject of debate, many workers wanting to place it earlier than 1.8 Ma to coincide with the onset of the first late Cenozoic glacial age evident in China. In this book, the international definition of the Pleistocene Epoch is employed.

    Pleistocene deposits are widely distributed in China (see figure 12-1) and are mostly loess, fluvio-lacustrine deposits, alluvial fan...

  16. Chapter 13 Summary
    (pp. 291-296)

    Fossil vertebrates have been known from China for more than 2000 years, but scientific study of them did not begin until the 1800s. This study can be organized to fit three phases of a model proposed by Basalla (1967) to explain the introduction of a science into any non-European nation.

    During the first phase, from about the 1870s until the 1920s, only foreign vertebrate paleontologists collected and studied Chinese vertebrate fossils, sending their collections to the West. The 1920s and 1930s saw foreign vertebrate paleontologists living in China and beginning to train Chinese vertebrate paleontologists. The most significant student they...

  17. References
    (pp. 297-344)
  18. Index
    (pp. 345-376)