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      Revised geochronology, correlation, and dinosaur stratigraphic ranges of the Santonian-Maastrichtian (Late Cretaceous) formations of the Western Interior of North America

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          Abstract

          Interbasinal stratigraphic correlation provides the foundation for all consequent continental-scale geological and paleontological analyses. Correlation requires synthesis of lithostratigraphic, biostratigraphic and geochronologic data, and must be periodically updated to accord with advances in dating techniques, changing standards for radiometric dates, new stratigraphic concepts, hypotheses, fossil specimens, and field data. Outdated or incorrect correlation exposes geological and paleontological analyses to potential error. The current work presents a high-resolution stratigraphic chart for terrestrial Late Cretaceous units of North America, combining published chronostratigraphic, lithostratigraphic, and biostratigraphic data. 40Ar / 39Ar radiometric dates are newly recalibrated to both current standard and decay constant pairings. Revisions to the stratigraphic placement of most units are slight, but important changes are made to the proposed correlations of the Aguja and Javelina formations, Texas, and recalibration corrections in particular affect the relative age positions of the Belly River Group, Alberta; Judith River Formation, Montana; Kaiparowits Formation, Utah; and Fruitland and Kirtland formations, New Mexico. The stratigraphic ranges of selected clades of dinosaur species are plotted on the chronostratigraphic framework, with some clades comprising short-duration species that do not overlap stratigraphically with preceding or succeeding forms. This is the expected pattern that is produced by an anagenetic mode of evolution, suggesting that true branching (speciation) events were rare and may have geographic significance. The recent hypothesis of intracontinental latitudinal provinciality of dinosaurs is shown to be affected by previous stratigraphic miscorrelation. Rapid stepwise acquisition of display characters in many dinosaur clades, in particular chasmosaurine ceratopsids, suggests that they may be useful for high resolution biostratigraphy.

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          Most cited references 79

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          Subcommission on geochronology: Convention on the use of decay constants in geo- and cosmochronology

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            Intercalibration of standards, absolute ages and uncertainties in 40Ar/39Ar dating

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              Synchronizing rock clocks of Earth history.

              Calibration of the geological time scale is achieved by independent radioisotopic and astronomical dating, but these techniques yield discrepancies of approximately 1.0% or more, limiting our ability to reconstruct Earth history. To overcome this fundamental setback, we compared astronomical and 40Ar/39Ar ages of tephras in marine deposits in Morocco to calibrate the age of Fish Canyon sanidine, the most widely used standard in 40Ar/39Ar geochronology. This calibration results in a more precise older age of 28.201 +/- 0.046 million years ago (Ma) and reduces the 40Ar/39Ar method's absolute uncertainty from approximately 2.5 to 0.25%. In addition, this calibration provides tight constraints for the astronomical tuning of pre-Neogene successions, resulting in a mutually consistent age of approximately 65.95 Ma for the Cretaceous/Tertiary boundary.
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                Author and article information

                Contributors
                Role: ConceptualizationRole: Data curationRole: Formal analysisRole: InvestigationRole: MethodologyRole: Writing – original draft
                Role: Editor
                Journal
                PLoS One
                PLoS ONE
                plos
                plosone
                PLoS ONE
                Public Library of Science (San Francisco, CA USA )
                1932-6203
                22 November 2017
                2017
                : 12
                : 11
                Affiliations
                Dickinson Museum Center, Dickinson, North Dakota, United States of America
                Indiana University Bloomington, UNITED STATES
                Author notes

                Competing Interests: The author has declared that no competing interests exist.

                Article
                PONE-D-16-41585
                10.1371/journal.pone.0188426
                5699823
                29166406
                © 2017 Denver Warwick Fowler

                This is an open access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original author and source are credited.

                Page count
                Figures: 0, Tables: 0, Pages: 20
                Product
                Funding
                The author received no specific funding for this work.
                Categories
                Research Article
                Earth Sciences
                Geology
                Stratigraphy
                Biology and Life Sciences
                Organisms
                Eukaryota
                Animals
                Prehistoric Animals
                Archosauria
                Dinosaurs
                Biology and Life Sciences
                Paleontology
                Prehistoric Animals
                Archosauria
                Dinosaurs
                Earth Sciences
                Paleontology
                Prehistoric Animals
                Archosauria
                Dinosaurs
                Biology and Life Sciences
                Paleontology
                Paleobiology
                Paleozoology
                Vertebrate Paleontology
                Prehistoric Animals
                Archosauria
                Dinosaurs
                Earth Sciences
                Paleontology
                Paleobiology
                Paleozoology
                Vertebrate Paleontology
                Prehistoric Animals
                Archosauria
                Dinosaurs
                Biology and Life Sciences
                Paleontology
                Biostratigraphy
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                Computer and Information Sciences
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                Mesozoic Era
                Cretaceous Period
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                Biology and Life Sciences
                Paleontology
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                Custom metadata
                Data are present in the two tables in the Supporting Information (S1 Table; S2 Table).

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