MS (Master of Science)
Date of Award
Committee Chair or Co-Chairs
Jim I. Mead
Blaine W. Schubert, Steven C. Wallace
The Gray Fossil Site (GFS), a Mio-Pliocene (4.5–7 Ma) locality in the southern Appalachians, boasts the most diverse pre-Pleistocene salamander fauna in North America: Desmognathus sp., Plethodon sp., Notophthalmus sp., a Spelerpinae-type plethodontid, and Ambystoma sp. Because greater taxonomic resolution can result in more precise paleobiological interpretations, additional specimens were studied here. ETMNH 8045, a nearly complete articulated ambystomatid, appears most like Ambystoma maculatum in dentition and vertebral proportions. ETMNH 18219, an isolated vomer, is consistent with modern Pseudotriton and Gyrinophilus in possessing a postdentigerous process and a similar dentigerous row morphology. If these taxa, or species of similar ecological preferences, occurred around the GFS, it seems unlikely they co-inhabited the sinkhole lake. Aquatic stages of Pseudotriton and terrestrial Gyrinophilus last multiple years; their presence could further support a perennial lake interpretation. Modern A. maculatum preferentially breed in vernal pools; confirmed identification could suggest local seasonal wetlands.
Thesis - Open Access
Darcy, Hannah E., "Additional Research and Taxonomic Resolution of Salamanders (Amphibia: Caudata) from the Mio-Pliocene Gray Fossil Site, TN" (2015). Electronic Theses and Dissertations. Paper 2527. https://dc.etsu.edu/etd/2527
Copyright by the authors.