Degree Name

MS (Master of Science)



Date of Award


Committee Chair or Co-Chairs

Jim I. Mead

Committee Members

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.

Document Type

Thesis - unrestricted


Copyright by the authors.

Included in

Paleontology Commons