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Here we report on exceptional preservation of remains of the frog Eorubeta nevadensis in deposits of the Sheep Pass Formation, ranging from Late Cretaceous to Eocene, in the south Egan Range, Nevada. This formation represents a lacustrine basin within the Sevier retroarc hinterland. The formation is subdivided into six members (A–F); of interest here are members B and C. The base of member B is ?uppermost Cretaceous-Paleocene, while member C is Paleocene. Member B frogs are preserved in three taphonomic modes. Mode 1 frogs are nearly complete and accumulated under attritional processes, with frogs settling on microbial mats, as evidenced by crenulated fabric of entombing limestone. Mode 2 involves accumulation of frogs as a result of attritional processes. These frogs are mostly complete with some showing evidence of invertebrate scavenging. Possible scavengers are gastropods, ostracods, and decapods. Mode 3 is represented by isolated, reworked remains of frogs as a result of storm activity, supported by the association of elements with disarticulated bivalves and mud rip-up clasts. Member C preserves frogs in two taphonomic modes. Mode 4 are nearly complete frogs that accumulated during discrete mass mortality events. Numerous individuals are preserved along bedding planes in identical preservational states. Mode 5 is beds of frog bone hash, which represent increased energy to the depositional system (likely tempestites) and reworking of previously buried frog remains. Taphonomy of the frogs, along with the associated fauna and flora, are consistent with preservation in a cool, temperate lake basin, supporting previous interpretations that the Nevadaplano was an elevated plateau during the late Cretaceous through the Eocene. This is a period of time coincident with a climatic thermal optimum, thus the most parsimonious explanation for a temperate lake at the latitude of east-central Nevada is to invoke high elevation, which is consistent with independent structural and clumped stable isotope studies.


Frog; Nevadaplano; Taphonomy; Paleogene; Eorubeta nevadensis; Paleogeography; Sheep Pass Formation; Nevada paleontology; Cretaceous



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