Mammalian dispersal at the Paleocene/Eocene boundary

Science. 2002 Mar 15;295(5562):2062-5. doi: 10.1126/science.1068700.


A profound faunal reorganization occurred near the Paleocene/Eocene boundary, when several groups of mammals abruptly appeared on the Holarctic continents. To test the hypothesis that this event featured the dispersal of groups from Asia to North America and Europe, we used isotope stratigraphy, magnetostratigraphy, and quantitative biochronology to constrain the relative age of important Asian faunas. The extinct family Hyaenodontidae appeared in Asia before it did so in North America, and the modern orders Primates, Artiodactyla, and Perissodactyla first appeared in Asia at or before the Paleocene/Eocene boundary. These results are consistent with Asia being a center for early mammalian origination.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, Non-P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Artiodactyla
  • Asia
  • Carbon Isotopes
  • China
  • Climate
  • Europe
  • Fossils
  • Geologic Sediments
  • Mammals*
  • North America
  • Paleontology*
  • Perissodactyla
  • Phylogeny
  • Primates
  • Time


  • Carbon Isotopes