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Re: Ain't No Mountain Low Enough [elephants don't like steep terrain]

Quoting "franklin e. bliss" <frank@blissnet.com>:

The Cretaceous Hell Creek I collect was deposited on a fairly flat
surface.  Is/are there any formations that preserve dinosaurs/fossils
in general that were obviously high angle environments on a large
scale.  I would think that most depositional environments in a
mountainous situation short of certain alluvial fan deposits would not
be conducive for preservation.  I would think representative species
from high altitude would be pretty uncommon because of this bias.

Given that (general speaking) biodiversity seems to decrease with altitude (as does biomass per unit area), and taking into account the usually severe erosional forces at work on steep slopes, I'd tend to agree with you. I'd be surprised if *any* high altitude species are well represented in the fossil record. Of course, 'high altitude' needn't always equate to 'steep slopes' (plateaus, for example), but I'm guessing the fossil record of the smaller South American camelids is pretty sparse.

The same is true in archaeology; I've heard people try to argue that certain groups of humans prefered to live at lower latitudes close to rivers because that's where most of their archaeological sites are found. What they're not taking into account is the preservational bias against high altitude settlements being preserved. There's also a greater chance of site visibility afforded by modern erosion within river valleys.

My advice is that if you want to have your garbage pile immortalised in a museum of the distant future, then live within a flood plain.


Dann Pigdon
GIS / Archaeologist         http://heretichides.soffiles.com
Melbourne, Australia        http://www.geocities.com/dannsdinosaurs