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Dinosaur diversity triggered by mountain building in Late Cretaceous North America

From: Ben Creisler

New in PLoS ONE:

Terry A. Gates, Albert Prieto-Márquez & Lindsay E. Zanno (2012)
Mountain Building Triggered Late Cretaceous North American
Megaherbivore Dinosaur Radiation.
PLoS ONE 7(8): e42135

Prior studies of Mesozoic biodiversity document a diversity peak for
dinosaur species in the Campanian stage of the Late Cretaceous, yet
have failed to provide explicit causal mechanisms. We provide evidence
that a marked increase in North American dinosaur biodiversity can be
attributed to dynamic orogenic episodes within the Western Interior
Basin (WIB). Detailed fossil occurrences document an association
between the shift from Sevier-style, latitudinally arrayed basins to
smaller Laramide-style, longitudinally arrayed basins and a well
substantiated decreased geographic range/increased taxonomic diversity
of megaherbivorous dinosaur species. Dispersal-vicariance analysis
demonstrates that the nearly identical biogeographic histories of the
megaherbivorous dinosaur clades Ceratopsidae and Hadrosauridae are
attributable to rapid diversification events within restricted basins
and that isolation events are contemporaneous with known tectonic
activity in the region. SymmeTREE analysis indicates that
megaherbivorous dinosaur clades exhibited significant variation in
diversification rates throughout the Late Cretaceous. Phylogenetic
divergence estimates of fossil clades offer a new lower boundary on
Laramide surficial deformation that precedes estimates based on
sedimentological data alone.