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First Description and Significance of Cretaceous Teleostean Otoliths (Tar Heel Formation, Campanian) from North Carolina

Gary L. Stringer1,*, Don Clements2, Eric Sadorf3, and Kevin Shannon4

1Museum of Natural History, University of Louisiana at Monroe, Monroe, LA 71209. 2North Carolina Museum of Natural Sciences, Raleigh, NC 27601. 3Cary, North Carolina, 27513. 4Martinsville, VA 24112. *Corresponding author.

Eastern Paleontologist, No. 1 (2018)

Fish otoliths (n = 866) from the Tar Heel Formation (Campanian) in North Carolina are the first Cretaceous ear stones to be described from the state and only the fourth study of Atlantic Coastal Plain Cretaceous otoliths. The 28 taxa (13 families) represent megalopids (tarpons), albulids and pterothrissids (bonefishes), congrids (conger eels), ariids (sea catfishes), gonostomatids (bristlemouths), aulopids (flagfins), polymixiids (beardfishes), trachichthyids (roughies), berycids (alfonsinos), pempherids (sweepers), and percoids. Otoliths reveal greater fish diversity than skeletal material alone, and indicate a shallow marine shelf, tropical/subtropical or warm temperate conditions, normal marine salinity, and muddy/sandy bottoms. Percentage similarity measurements between the Tar Heel Formation localities and the stratigraphically equivalent Woodbury Formation in New Jersey reflect the effects of paleogeography and paleoecology.

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