When I began this blog late in 2010, my intention was to report on recent field trips however, with the exception of one excursion each into the Upper Miocene, Lower Pliocene and the Calabrian Pleistocene, all of my posts have concentrated on the Upper Pliocene of the US Atlantic and Gulf coastal plains. I already had an extensive collection of Florida Upper Pliocene invertebrates that I had collected while a resident of the state in the late 80s and early 90s. The fossils from these beds are contemporaneous with the Zone 2 Yorktown beds of Virginia and North Carolina that I began collecting in the early 2000s, the Duplin Formation that I collected in 2010 and several trips to Jackson Bluff localities in the Florida panhandle in 2011. These more recent collecting endeavors required a reassessment of the identification of my Florida collection due to a better recognition on my part of modern thoughts on speciation and from working with paleontologists who research these deposits. Also I began rejecting non-peer reviewed books and guides geared toward amateurs which exhibited sloppy and unsubstantiated research. In an effort to free display space I began cross-referencing species from different formations to compile at least what I believe is very accurate species identifications and to place the best example of each species regardless of formation within my display cabinets (fig. 1 & 2).
Figure 1. Upper Pliocene (Piacenzian) Bivalvia Eastern United States.
Figure 2. Upper Pliocene (Piacenzian) Gastropoda Eastern United States.
The attached species list represents the completion of my Pliocene project. Unlike my previous lists which concentrated on the mollusks from particular sites and formations, the 16 page document below is a compilation of all Eastern United States Piacenzian fossils in my collection both vertebrate and invertebrate. The ability to observe different species geographically has led to changes that can be seen if comparing mollusks in the list below to those noted from my previous posts. I have eliminated species which were obviously the same but named differently based upon the regional description of the molluscan fauna by earlier research. The list is not meant to be comprehensive of these deposits, but more of a guide of what can be found. Although my collection is strong in Sarasota area Pinecrest, Jackson Bluff Formation and Zone 2 Yorktown, it is very weak in Pinecrest fauna from the coral reef facies near Miami and the Kissimmee River area, weak in the Duplin Formation (only two localities sampled), and almost absent other than a few trades from early Piacenzian faunas from the Raysor and Goose Creek Formations of the Carolinas. For a more extensive list of species from this period of time I would refer those interested in mollusks to Campbell (1993) and for Florida vertebrates to Hulbert (2001).
The systematics of the specimens listed are by those fields that I find the most useful in query searches within my Access database and for the most part are as follows: Phylum, Class, Order, Family, Genus, Species, and Subspecies. In stating the distribution of each species, only the formation is noted not the individual members of the Yorktown and Tamiami Formations. Abbreviations used are Yorktown (Y), Duplin (D), Jackson Bluff (J), Tamiami (T) Chowan River (C ), Goose Creek (G) and Raysor (R ). For those taxa which are near to another cf. (similar to) was used. Less specific affinity (aff.) as well as species undetermined (sp.) are designated.
The reasoning behind classification I used is addressed in the notes section below.
Algae. A single species of calcareous algae was found in the limestone facies (Ochopee) of the Tamiami Formation which could not be identified to genus or species.
Bryozoa. The identification of bryozoa is highly specialized requiring microscopic identification of various feeding structures. Due to a lack of references and interest I identified most as bryozoa species.
Anthozoa. Eleven species of coral were collected; almost all of which are from the Pinecrest. The exception is the ubiquitous Septastrea marylandica which led a commensal lifestyle by growing on hermit crab inhabited gastropod shells. The other coral outside the Pinecrest was Septastrea crassa found near Williamsburg, Virginia which I obtained with a collection of Zone 2 Yorktown fossils in a trade from the 80s. Since I did not collect it personally and have not found this particular species at any of the numerous Zone 2 sites that I have collected over the past decade I have designated it as questionable from the Yorktown (Y?).
Brachiopoda. Only a single Upper Pliocene brachiopod is listed. Discinisca lugrubris is a geologically wide ranging species found from the Lower Miocene to the Upper Pliocene colder water Bed 11 of the Pinecrest Member of the Tamiami Formation and the Jackson Bluff Formation.
Mollusca. Since Piacenzian deposits are known world wide for their shell beds, it stands to reason that mollusks should dominate. The list contains 244 species and subspecies of bivalves, 370 of gastropods and 6 scaphopods. In general, the warmer the water, the higher is gastropod diversity. The list shows that bivalves are wide ranging and less so with gastropods where many more were found only in the warmer water Tamiami Formation. Aragonitic shells do not preserve well in carbonate environments and are often difficult to identify to species. Those shells from the Ochopee Member of the Tamiami Formation that were preserved as internal casts that I felt were probably represented in Pinecrest were not listed separately (i.e. Ficus sp. Internal cast from the Ochopee is probably Ficus jacksonensis from the Pinecrest). I followed the systematics of Turgeon et. al. (1998) which Roger Portell Director, Division of Invertebrate Paleontology of the Florida Museum of Natural History uses for the mollusks in the Florida Paleontology Society publications. This has led to some interesting changes in classification of gastropods within my collection. In a previous post to the forum, I had mentioned that at some point the subgenera of the family Turritellidae had been reclassified to genera. As stated by Turgeon concerning several recent species that were reclassified in this manner “We do not know the source of this reclassification nor have we seen evidence of subsequent acceptance...” therefore I reclassified all genera in Turritellidae back to Turritella with the exception of valid Vermicularia. The most drastic change in classification had to be with members from the families Turridae, Drillidae, and Conidae. I originally classified all turrids in Turridae by older systematics based solely on shell characteristics. I have known for awhile that at some point the family had been split based upon internal structure of the animal itself and DNA studies. What I did not know was that some of those species had been reclassified as Conidae. Turgeon noted that the study was controversial but was supported by anatomical and radular data and also stated that the affected subfamilies would be better suited in their own family. It was difficult for me to classify genera Glyptostoma and Cythara as Conidae, but I did so since I committed to using Turgeon.
Cirripedia. Barnacles were more diverse in the Eastern US Upper Pliocene than today but much like bryozoa their specific identification is difficult. Factors for species id include the tubular structure of the outer wall and the internal plates that protect the animal. I feel that most of my identifications are correct however some are based upon morphological features of the outer shell and geographical range and thus might not be accurate.
Decapoda. Crabs are a common component of shell beds, however due to the formation of the beds by winnowing, crabs are rarely preserved intact. The majority of crab finds are as isolated legs, claws, and occasional carapaces. Very little study has been made of Pliocene crabs, but most notable are publications by Rathbun (1935) who identified a wide geographical range of species and those of Florida by Portell and coauthors (2002, 2004). The crabs of the Yorktown Formation are not characterized and in many cases at generic level I used similar to reference (Cf.) which like Cirripedia does not follow proper identification rules.
Echinoids. Much like crabs, disarticulated echinoid remains can be common in shell beds. In limestone however, because of their calcitic tests and gentle conditions in carbonate environments, echinoids can be preserved intact. I have not collected in the Raysor and Goose Creek Formations but I did receive echinoids from these deposits in trades from the 90s. At one point both of these units were considered members of the Duplin Formation. This has led to designation in the list (D/R) meaning that the original label listed Duplin Formation but due to the attached calcareous matrix, I believe that the specimens are from the Raysor.
Vertebrates. Those collectors who have been fortunate to collect at the PCS/Lee Creek Mine are well aware of the rich vertebrate fauna found in the Yorktown Formation. The Yorktown however is divided into two different units—Zone 1 Lower Pliocene (Zanclean) and Zone 2 Upper Pliocene (Piacenzian). One of the distinguish features of these two zones is the richness of vertebrates in Zone 1 compared to their very sparse nature in Zone 2. Vertebrates during this interval are only common in Pinecrest Beds 4 and 11 and a bone layer in Bed 3 consisting of a mass die off of cormorants during a red tide which I never collected. Marine vertebrates can also be found within the Jackson Bluff Formation but not as plentiful as the previously described beds. Redeposited vertebrate remains are found in the Upper Pliocene of the Carolinas and Virginia and are not included in my list. These include teeth of the Cretaceous sharks Squalicorax kaupi and Scapanorhynchus texanus that I have found in the Duplin Formation and vertebrates from the lag deposit found at the contact between the Upper Cretaceous Black Creek Group and Zone 2 Yorktown Formation at my locality 1012 which probably represented concentrated bones and teeth from the Lower Pliocene and Upper Miocene. Upper Pliocene vertebrate remains besides bony fish, shark and ray in my collection include one marine turtle, one land tortoise, a capybara, a walrus, and a dugong. I classified large whale remains as Mysticeti and smaller remains as Odontoceti dolphin although there could be crossover.
Numerous references were used and I have them listed according to those for identification or taxonomy and those that I used in writing about the geology or ecology of the deposits described within my blog. In addition to the below publications, I found Greta Polites Fossil Muricidae Website (http://glpolites.us/murex/index.htm) to be invaluable in eliminating synonymous species. My only deviation from her list was with Ecphora which I only recognized two species, E. quadricostata and bradlyae.
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Campbell, Lyle. 1993. Pliocene Molluscs from the Yorktown and Chowan River Formations in Virginia. Virginia Division of Mineral Resources Publication 127.
Dall W.H. 1890-1903. Contributions to the Tertiary Fauna of Florida, with Especial Reference to the Miocene Silex-Beds of Tampa and the Pliocene Beds of the Caloosahatchie River, Part I: Pulmonate, Opisthobranchiate and Orthodont Gastropods, Transactions of the Wagner Free Institute of Science of Philadelphia 3(1-VI).
Gardner, J. A. 1944. Mollusca from the Miocene and Lower Pliocene of Virginia and North Carolina: Part 1. Pelecypoda, United States Geological Survey Professional Paper 199-A: iv, pages 1-178, plates 1-23
Gardner, J. A. 1948. Mollusca from the Miocene and Lower Pliocene of Virginia and North Carolina: Part 2. Scaphopoda and Gastropoda, United States Geological Survey Professional Paper 199-B: iv, pages 179-310, plates 24-38, [iii]
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