McAbee Fossil Beds

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The McAbee Fossil Beds is a Heritage Site that protects an Eocene Epoch fossil locality east of Cache Creek, British Columbia, Canada, just north of and visible from Provincial Highway 97 / the Trans-Canada Highway (Highway 1) at 50°47.831′N 121°8.469′W / 50.797183°N 121.141150°W / 50.797183; -121.141150. The McAbee Fossil Beds, comprising 548.23 hectares (1,354.7 acres), were officially designated a Provincial Heritage Site under British Columbia's Heritage Conservation Act on July 19, 2012.[1][2] The site is part of an old lake bed which was deposited about 52 million years ago and is internationally recognised for the diversity of plant, insect, and fish fossils found there. Similar fossil beds in Eocene lake sediments, also known for their well preserved plant, insect and fish fossils, are found at Driftwood Canyon Provincial Park near Smithers in northern British Columbia, on the Horsefly River near Quesnel in central British Columbia, and at Republic in Washington, United States.[3] The Princeton Chert fossil beds in southern British Columbia are also Eocene, but primarily preserve an aquatic plant community.[4] A recent review of the early Eocene fossil sites from the interior of British Columbia discusses the history of paleobotanical research at McAbee, the Princeton Chert, Driftwood Canyon, and related Eocene fossil sites such as at Republic.[5]

McAbee Fossil Beds viewed from the Highway.
Heritage status sign

Palaeontology[edit]

Fossil plants from the same area as the McAbee fossil beds (Cache Creek and Kamloops B.C.) were first reported by G.M. Dawson.[6] Palaeontological and geological studies of the McAbee Fossil Beds are more recent, however, going back at least to research in the 1960s and early 1970s by Dr. Len Hills of the University of Calgary and his students on the fossil spores and pollen (palynology) and the leaf fossils,[7][8][9] and research on the fossil fish from the fossil beds by Dr. Mark Wilson of the University of Alberta.[3] Thomas Ewing provided a detailed analysis of the geology of the Kamloops Group, including the McAbee beds.[10] Significant research on the fossil plants and insects has only occurred since the late 1980s.[11][12][13][14][15] The McAbee Fossil Beds are best known for the abundant and well-preserved insect and fish fossils (Amyzon, Eohiodon, and Eosalmo). Eohiodon rosei from the McAbee Fossil Beds and other Eocene sites in British Columbia is now considered to belong to the present-day mooneye genus Hiodon.[16]

The climate of the McAbee Eocene lake was reconstructed to be temperate and wet, with a mean annual temperature about 11 °C (52 °F), winters lacking frost (coldest month mean temperature ~5 °C), and annual precipitation over 1,000 mm (39 in) a year with little or no seasonality of precipitation.[13][14][17][18] The extraordinary detail preserved in the insect fossils, as well as the high diversity of insects, plants and other organisms means the McAbee Fossil Beds represent a Konservat-Lagerstätten.[15]

A volcanic ash exposed in the lake shale beds was originally radiometrically dated using the K-Ar method at ~51 million years ago;[8][10] however, a recently provided radiometric date using the 40Ar-39Ar method places the McAbee Fossil Beds at 52.9 ± 0.83 million years old, placing it in the early Eocene Epoch.[19][20]

Flora[edit]

Fossil leaf of Sassafras hesperia from the McAbee Fossil Beds. Royal Tyrrell Museum of Palaeontology collection. Collected by L. Hills in 1983.

Fossils of plant leaves, shoots, seeds, flowers and cones are abundant and well preserved, and include up to 76 genera of plants.[21] Fossil plants described from the fossil beds include rare flowers such as Dipteronia, a genus of trees related to maples (Acer. spp.) that today grows in eastern Asia,[22] extinct members of the birch family (Betulaceae) such as Palaeocarpinus,[23] maple seeds (Acer rousei),[11] and fruits and leaves of a beech (Fagus langevinii)[24] and an elm (Ulmus okanaganensis).[25]

Below is an incomplete list of the plant genera found in the McAbee fossil beds based on the list found in Dillhoff, Leopold & Manchester (2005) with extinct taxa denoted with a †.[26]

plant family genera common name
Cupressaceae Chamaecyparis, Cunninghamia, Metasequoia, Sequoia, Thuja cypress, Chinese fir, dawn redwood, California redwood, red or white cedar
Ginkgoaceae Ginkgo ginkgo, maidenhair tree
Pinaceae Abies,[27] Picea, Pinus, Pseudolarix,[28] Tsuga fir, spruce, pine, golden larch, hemlock
Taxaceae cf. Amentotaxus, cf. Torreya catkin yew, nutmeg yew or 'torreya'
Betulaceae Alnus, Betula, Palaeocarpinus[23] alder, birch, extinct hornbeam
Cercidiphyllaceae Joffrea / Cercidiphyllum extinct / katsura (Japan)
Cornaceae Cornus dogwood
Fagaceae Fagus beech
Grossulariaceae Ribes currant or gooseberry
Hamamelidaceae Langeria magnifica extinct witch hazel relative
Lauraceae Sassafras sassafras
Malvaceae Florissantia extinct
Myricaceae Comptonia sweet fern (a woody flowering shrub with fern-like leaves)
Platanaceae Macginicarpa, Macginitiea extinct sycamore, plane tree
Rosaceae Amelanchier, Crataegus, Prunus serviceberry, hawthorn, cherry
Salicaceae Populus cottonwood, poplar
Sapindaceae Acer, Aesculus, †Cruciptera,[29] Dipteronia, Koelreuteria maple, buckeye or horse chestnut, golden rain tree
Trochodendraceae Trochodendron,[30] Zizyphoides wheel tree, extinct
Ulmaceae Ulmus okanaganensis elm
Vitaceae Vitis grape

Insects and other arthropods[edit]

The fossil insects are particularly diverse and well preserved, and include an extinct bulldog ant Macabeemyrma ovata,[31] a species of green lacewing (Neuroptera, Chrysopidae) (Archaeochrysa profracta), and stick insects (Phasmatodea).[20][32][33] A species of fossil freshwater crayfish (Aenigmastacus crandalli) was described from the McAbee Fossil Beds.[34] The very high diversity of fossil insects in the McAbee fossil beds is comparable to that of modern-day tropical forest areas.[35] Most recently, fossil palm beetles (Bruchidae) were described from the beds, confirming the presence of palms (Arecaceae) in the local environment in the early Eocene.[36]

Below is an incomplete list of the insect Orders, superfamilies and families, and genera found in the McAbee Fossil Beds based on information in Archibald, Bossert, Greenwood, and Farrell (2010),[20] Archibald, Mathewes, and Greenwood (2013), Archibald, Rasnitsyn and Akhmetiev (2005)[37] and other sources cited in the list below, with extinct taxa denoted with a †.

Arthropod order Super family/family Genus/Species Authors Notes Images

Ephemeroptera

Odonata

Aeshnidae

Darners (dragonflies)

Odonata

Megapodagrionidae

Flatwing damselflies

Blattodea

Blaberidae

blaberid cockroaches

Isoptera

Hodotermitidae

harvester termites

Dermaptera

earwigs

Orthoptera

Prophalangopsidae

Grigs

Orthoptera

Tettigoniidae

katydids

Hemiptera

Aphididae

aphids

Hemiptera

Cicadellidae

leaf hoppers

Hemiptera

Cercopoidea

spittlebugs

Neuroptera

Chrysopidae

Protochrysa

Green lacewings

Neuroptera

Chrysopidae

Okanaganochrysa

Green lacewings

Neuroptera

Chrysopidae

Adamsochrysa

Green lacewings

Neuroptera

Chrysopidae

Archaeochrysa

Green lacewings

Neuroptera

Hemerobiidae

brown lacewings

Neuroptera

Osmylidae

osmylid lacewings

Coleoptera

Cupedidae

reticulated beetles

Coleoptera

cf. Cantharidae

soldier beetles

Coleoptera

Cerambycidae

long horned beetles

Coleoptera

Chrysomelidae

leaf beetles

Coleoptera

Curculionidae

weevils, snout beetles

Coleoptera

cf. Elateridae

click beetles

Coleoptera

Mordellidae

tumbling flower beetles

Mecoptera

Bittacidae

hangingflies

Mecoptera

†Cimbrophlebiidae

Cimbrophlebia

extinct group

Mecoptera

Panorpidae

Panorpa

panorpid scorpionflies

Mecoptera

Dinopanorpidae

Dinokanaga

extinct family

Mecoptera

Holcorpidae

Holcorpa

extinct family

Mecoptera

Eorpidae

Eorpa

extinct fmaily

Mecoptera

Eomeropidae

Eomerope

eomeropid mecopterans

Diptera

Bibionidae

Plecia

March flies

Diptera

Cylindrotomidae

long-bodied crane flies

Diptera

Limoniidae

limoniid crane flies

Diptera

Mycetophilidae

fungus gnats

Diptera

Tipulidae

crane flies

Diptera

Trichoceridae

winter crane flies

Diptera

Syrphidae

flower flies, hover flies

Trichoptera

caddisflies

Hymenoptera

Braconidae

braconid wasps

Hymenoptera

Cephidae

Cuspilongus cachecreekensis[38]

Archibald & Rasnitsyn, 2015

Sawfly

Hymenoptera

Cimbicidae

cimbicid wasps

Hymenoptera

Diapriidae

diapriid wasps

Hymenoptera

Figitidae

figitid wasps

Hymenoptera

Formicidae

Avitomyrmex elongatus[39]

Archibald, Cover, & Moreau, 2006

bulldog ants

Hymenoptera

Formicidae

Avitomyrmex mastax[39]

Archibald, Cover, & Moreau, 2006

bulldog ants

Hymenoptera

Formicidae

Avitomyrmex systenus[39]

Archibald, Cover, & Moreau, 2006

bulldog ants

Hymenoptera

Formicidae

Macabeemyrma ovata[39]

Archibald, Cover, & Moreau, 2006

bulldog ants

Hymenoptera

Formicidae

Ypresiomyrma bartletti[39]

Archibald, Cover, & Moreau, 2006

bulldog ants

Hymenoptera

Formicidae

Ypresiomyrma orbiculata[39]

Archibald, Cover, & Moreau, 2006

bulldog ants

Hymenoptera

Formicidae

Myrmeciites(?) goliath[39]

Archibald, Cover, & Moreau, 2006

bulldog ant form taxon

Hymenoptera

Formicidae

Myrmeciites herculeanus[39]

Archibald, Cover, & Moreau, 2006

bulldog ant form taxon

Hymenoptera

Ichneumonidae

ichneumon wasps

Hymenoptera

Proctotrupidae

proctotrupid wasps

Hymenoptera

Siricidae

Ypresiosirex orthosemos[38]

Archibald & Rasnitsyn, 2015

horntail wasps

Hymenoptera

Sphecidae

Sphecid wasps

Hymenoptera

Tenthredinidae

tenthredinid wasps

Hymenoptera

Vespidae

hornets

Phasmatodea

Susumanioidea

stick insects

Collections and collecting status[edit]

Small collections of fossils are housed in the Royal BC Museum in Victoria BC, the Royal Tyrrell Museum of Palaeontology in Drumheller Alberta, the Royal Ontario Museum, the Canadian Museum of Nature in Ottawa, the Burke Museum of Natural History and Culture in Seattle, WA, and other university collections, principally Thompson Rivers University in Kamloops, B.C., and Brandon University in Manitoba. Significant collections of fossils from the McAbee Fossil Beds are in private ownership and fossils from the McAbee Fossil Beds are listed for sale on the internet.[21]

The cessation of fossil collecting at the McAbee Fossil Beds through heritage listing is consistent with British Columbia's new Fossil Management Framework[40] which seeks to:

  • clarify the rules governing the management and use of fossils;
  • manage impacts on fossils from other activities;
  • provide for the stewardship of significant fossil sites;
  • raise internal and external awareness of the framework and the importance of fossils;
  • build knowledge of the nature and extent of the resource in BC; and
  • clarify the rights and obligations of the public, business, government and other stakeholders.

References[edit]

  1. ^ McAbee fossil site receives heritage protection.
  2. ^ McAbee Fossil Beds Heritage Site. Canadian Register of Historic Places. Retrieved 24 October 2014.
  3. ^ a b Wilson, M.V.H. (1977). "Middle Eocene freshwater fishes from British Columbia". Life Sciences Contributions, Royal Ontario Museum. No. 113: 1–66. 
  4. ^ Cevallos-Ferriz, SRS; Stockey, RA; Pigg, KB (1991). "Princeton chert: evidence for in situ aquatic plants". Review of Palaeobotany and Palynology. 70 (1–2): 173–185. doi:10.1016/0034-6667(91)90085-H. 
  5. ^ Greenwood, D.R.; Pigg, K.B.; Basinger, J.F.; DeVore, M.L. (2016). "A review of paleobotanical studies of the Early Eocene Okanagan (Okanogan) Highlands floras of British Columbia, Canada and Washington, USA". Canadian Journal of Earth Sciences. 53 (6): 548–564. doi:10.1139/cjes-2015-0177. 
  6. ^ Dawson, G.M. (1877). "Report on explorations in the southern portion of British Columbia." Geological Survey of. Canada, Report of Progress for 1875–76, pp. 233–265.
  7. ^ Hills, L.V. 1965. Palynology and age of early Tertiary basins, interior British Columbia; unpubl. Ph.D. thesis, University of Alberta, Edmonton, Alberta, 189 p.
  8. ^ a b Hills, L.V.; Baadsgaard, H. (1967). "Potassium-argon dating of some Lower Tertiary strata in British Columbia". Canadian Petroleum Geologists Bulletin. 15: 138–149. 
  9. ^ Verschoor, K. van R. 1974. Paleobotany of the Tertiary (early Middle Eocene) McAbee Beds, British Columbia. M.Sc. thesis, University of Calgary, Calgary, AB, 128 p.
  10. ^ a b Ewing, T.E. (1981). "Regional stratigraphy and structural setting of the Kamloops Group, south-central British Columbia". Canadian Journal of Earth Sciences. 18 (9): 1464–1477. doi:10.1139/e81-137. 
  11. ^ a b Wolfe, J.A.; Tanai, T. (1987). "Systematics, Phylogeny, and Distribution of Acer (maples) in the Cenozoic of Western North America". Journal of the Faculty of Science, Hokkaido University. Series 4, Geology and mineralogy. 22 (1): 1–246. 
  12. ^ Douglas, S.D.; Stockey, R.A. (1996). "Insect fossils in Middle Eocene deposits from British Columbia and Washington State: faunal diversity and geological range extensions". Canadian Journal of Zoology. 6: 1140–1157. doi:10.1139/z96-126. 
  13. ^ a b Greenwood, D.R.; Wing, S.L. (1995). "Eocene continental climates and latitudinal temperature gradients". Geology. 23 (11): 1044–1048. doi:10.1130/0091-7613(1995)023<1044:eccalt>2.3.co;2. 
  14. ^ a b Greenwood, D.R.; Archibald, S.B.; Mathewes, R.W.; Moss, P.T. (2005). "Fossil biotas from the Okanagan Highlands, southern British Columbia and northeastern Washington State: climates and ecosystems across an Eocene landscape". Canadian Journal of Earth Sciences. 42 (2): 167–185. doi:10.1139/E04-100. 
  15. ^ a b Archibald, S.B.; Greenwood, D.R.; Smith, R.Y.; Mathewes, R.W.; Basinger, J.F. (2012). "Great Canadian Lagerstätten 1. Early Eocene Lagerstätten of the Okanagan Highlands (British Columbia and Washington State)". Geoscience Canada. 38 (4): 155–164. 
  16. ^ Hilton, E.J.; Grande, L. (2008). "Fossil Mooneyes (Teleostei: Hiodontiformes, Hiodontidae) from the Eocene of western North America, with a reassessment of their taxonomy" in "Birth of the modern world: the Tertiary". Geological Society, London, Special Publications. 295: 221–251. doi:10.1144/SP295.13. 
  17. ^ Dillhoff, R.M.; Dillhoff, T.A.; Greenwood, D.R.; DeVore, M.L.; Pigg, K.B. (2013). "The Eocene Thomas Ranch flora, Allenby Formation, Princeton, British Columbia, Canada". Botany. 91 (8): 514–529. doi:10.1139/cjb-2012-0313. 
  18. ^ Gushulak, C.A.; West, C.K.; Greenwood, D.R. (2016). "Paleoclimate and precipitation seasonality of the Early Eocene McAbee megaflora, Kamloops Group, British Columbia". Canadian Journal of Earth Sciences. 53 (6): 591–604. doi:10.1139/cjes-2015-0160. 
  19. ^ Moss, PT; Greenwood, DR; Archibald, SB (2005). "Regional and local vegetation community dynamics of the Eocene Okanagan Highlands (British Columbia - Washington State) from palynology". Canadian Journal of Earth Sciences. 42 (2): 187–204. doi:10.1139/E04-095. 
  20. ^ a b c Archibald, S.B., Bossert, W.H., Greenwood, D.R., and Farrell, B.D. 2010. Seasonality, the latitudinal gradient of diversity, and Eocene insects. Paleobiology, 36 (3): 374 – 398.
  21. ^ a b Wilson, M.V.H. 2009. McAbee Fossil Site Assessment Report. 60 pp.Online PDF[permanent dead link]. Accessed July 21, 2012.
  22. ^ McClain, A.M.; Manchester, S.R. (2001). "Dipteronia (Sapindaceae) from the Tertiary of North America and implications for the phytogeographic history of the Aceroideae". American Journal of Botany. 88 (7): 1316–1325. doi:10.2307/3558343. 
  23. ^ a b Pigg, K.B.; Manchester, S.R.; Wehr, W.C. (2003). "Corylus, Carpinus, and Palaeocarpinus (Betulaceae) from the Middle Eocene Klondike Mountain and Allenby Formations of Northwestern North America". International Journal of Plant Sciences. 164 (5): 807–822. doi:10.1086/376816. 
  24. ^ Manchester, S.R.; Dillhoff, R.M. (2004). "Fagus (Fagaceae) fruits, foliage, and pollen from the Middle Eocene of Pacific Northwestern North America". Canadian Journal of Botany. 82 (10): 1509–1517. doi:10.1139/b04-112. 
  25. ^ Denk, T.; Dillhoff, R.M. (2005). "Ulmus leaves and fruits from the Early-Middle Eocene of northwestern North America: systematics and implications for character evolution within Ulmaceae". Canadian Journal of Botany. 83 (12): 1663–1681. doi:10.1139/b05-122. 
  26. ^ Dillhoff, R.M.; Leopold, E.B.; Manchester, S.R. (2005). "The McAbee flora of British Columbia and its relations to the Early-Middle Eocene Okanagan Highlands flora of the Pacific Northwest". Canadian Journal of Earth Sciences. 42 (2): 151–166. doi:10.1139/e04-084. 
  27. ^ Schorn, H.; Wehr, W.C. (1986). "Abies milleri, sp. nov., from the Middle Eocene Klondike Mountain Formation, Republic, Ferry County, Washington". Burke Museum Contributions in Anthropology and Natural History (1): 1–7. 
  28. ^ LePage, B.A.; Basinger, J.F. (1995). "Evolutionary history of the genus Pseudolarix Gordon (Pinaceae)". International Journal of Plant Sciences. 156 (6): 910–950. doi:10.1086/297313. 
  29. ^ Manchester, S.R. (1991). "Cruciptera, a new juglandaceous winged fruit from the Eocene and Oligocene of Western North America". Systematic Botany. 16 (4): 715–725. doi:10.2307/2418873. 
  30. ^ Pigg, K.B.; Dillhoff, R.M.; DeVore, M.L.; Wehr, W.C. (2007). "New diversity among the Trochodendraceae from the Early/Middle Eocene Okanogan Highlands of British Columbia, Canada, and Northeastern Washington State, United States". International Journal of Plant Sciences. 168 (4): 521–532. doi:10.1086/512104. 
  31. ^ Archibald, S.B.; Cover, S. P.; Moreau, C. S. (2006). "Bulldog Ants of the Eocene Okanagan Highlands and History of the Subfamily (Hymenoptera: Formicidae: Myrmeciinae)". Annals of the Entomological Society of America. 99 (3): 487–523. doi:10.1603/0013-8746(2006)99[487:BAOTEO]2.0.CO;2. 
  32. ^ Makarkin, V.N.; Archibald, S.B. (2013). "A diverse new assemblage of green lacewings (Insecta, Neuroptera, Chrysopidae) from the early Eocene Okanagan Highlands, western North America". Journal of Paleontology. 87: 123–146. doi:10.1666/12-052R.1. 
  33. ^ Archibald, SB; Bradler, S (2015). "Stem-group stick insects (Phasmatodea) in the early Eocene at McAbee, British Columbia, Canada, and Republic, Washington, United States of America". The Canadian Entomologist. 147 (06): 744–753. doi:10.4039/tce.2015.2. 
  34. ^ Feldmann, R.A.; Schweitzer, C.E.; Leahy, J. (2011). "New Eocene crayfish from the McAbee Beds in British Columbia: First record of Parastacoidea in the Northern Hemisphere". Journal of Crustacean Biology. 31 (2): 320–331. doi:10.1651/10-3399.1. 
  35. ^ Archibald, S.B.; Greenwood, D.R.; Mathewes, R.W. (2013). "Seasonality, montane beta diversity, and Eocene insects: Testing Janzen's dispersal hypothesis in an equable world". Palaeogeography, Palaeoclimatology, Palaeoecology. 371: 1–8. doi:10.1016/j.palaeo.2012.10.043. 
  36. ^ Archibald, S.B.; Morse, G.; Greenwood, D.R.; Mathewes, R.W. (2014). "Fossil palm beetles refine upland winter temperatures in the Early Eocene Climatic Optimum". Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. 111 (22): 8095–8100. PMC 4050627Freely accessible. PMID 24821798. doi:10.1073/pnas.1323269111. 
  37. ^ Archibald, S.B.; Rasnitsyn, A.P.; Akhmetiev, M.A. (2005). "The ecology and distribution of Cenozoic Eomeropidae (Mecoptera), and a new species of Eomerope Cockerell from the Early Eocene McAbee locality, British Columbia, Canada". Annals of the Entomological Society of America. 98: 503–514. doi:10.1603/0013-8746(2005)098[0503:EADOCE]2.0.CO;2. 
  38. ^ a b Archibald, S.B.; Rasnitsyn, A.P. (2015). "New early Eocene Siricomorpha (Hymenoptera: Symphyta: Pamphiliidae, Siricidae, Cephidae) from the Okanagan Highlands, western North America". The Canadian Entomologist. 148 (2): 209–228. doi:10.4039/tce.2015.55. 
  39. ^ a b c d e f g h Archibald, S.B.; Cover, S. P.; Moreau, C. S. (2006). "Bulldog Ants of the Eocene Okanagan Highlands and History of the Subfamily (Hymenoptera: Formicidae: Myrmeciinae)" (PDF). Annals of the Entomological Society of America. 99 (3): 487–523. doi:10.1603/0013-8746(2006)99[487:BAOTEO]2.0.CO;2. 
  40. ^ Fossil Management Framework. http://www2.gov.bc.ca/gov/topic.page?id=581E56736871492E80229C27F1662222 (accessed May 4, 2015)