Non-marine fish of the late Santonian Milk River Formation of Alberta, Canada – evidence from vertebrate microfossil localities

Don B Brinkman, Andrew G. Neuman, Julien Divay


The diversity of fishes from the late Santonian Milk River Formation is investigated using a combined taxonomic/morphotype approach. Twenty-one taxa are present, including four elasmobranchs, seven basal actinopterygians, and of ten teleosts.

The Milk River fish assemblage is more similar to assemblages from southern Utah than it is to the late Campanian assemblage of Alberta in the presence of the elasmobranch Lonchidion and a member of amiid subfamily Vidalamiinae, the relatively high abundance of the ostariophysan teleost U3/BvD, and the absence of sturgeon, Holostean A, Holostean B, and Coriops. This similarity is hypothesized to be the result of a northern shift in the distribution of these taxa during times of high global temperature, resulting in the presence of a “southern” faunal assemblage in Alberta during the late Santonian.

In the relative abundance patterns of major groups of fish, the Milk River Formation assemblage is similar to late Campanian assemblages and different from those of late Maastrichtian in that amiids and lepsisoteids are of relatively low abundance. The abundance of acanthomorph teleosts in the Milk River Formation is similar to that of contemporaneous assemblages from Utah, which supports a pattern of increasing abundance of acanthomorphs from their first occurrence in non-marine vertebrate assemblages of the Western Interior in the Coniacian through to the end of the Cretaceous.


Cretaceous, Milk River Formation, Fish, paleoecology,

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