The Zaysan Basin in Central Asia has a long geological history, and it has therefore seen major climatic and evolutionary transformations. The Miocene fossil record of this locality is remarkably rich representing all groups of vertebrates. A revision of fish remains has been carried out and new records of fishes, reptiles, and mammals recovered from Miocene deposits of the Zaysan Basin have been described. The study of fossils has revealed the existence of a quite diverse vertebrate assemblage in the basin during the Miocene. Representatives of the Percidae and Amiinae, and the species †Leobergia zaissanica predominated among fishes, whereas reptiles were supposedly represented in the assemblage by pan-trionychid turtles and crocodiles. No amphibians have been revealed, while the only mammalian taxa in the studied sample is a fossorial rodent of the genus †Tachyoryctoides. In contrast to previous views regarding the Middle Miocene age of the Zaysan Formation, the analysis of fish and mammal remains recovered from this locality strongly suggests an Early Miocene age. Findings of bowfin remains in the Zaysan Basin confirm that this group had existed outside of North America beyond the Paleogene/Neogene transition, and, at the same time, these specimens are the last known occurrences of the taxa Amiidae, Amiiformes, and Halecomorphi outside of North America. Data also indicate the existence of a lacustrine ecosystem in the Zaysan Basin during the Miocene with a taxonomically rich vertebrate assemblage and diverse trophic relations being an important center of biodiversity in the Miocene of Central Asia.
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28 November 2022
New Data on the Miocene Vertebrate Assemblage of the Zaysan Basin (Central Asia) with Implications for Biostratigraphy, Paleoecology, and Paleobiogeography
Julien D. Divay,
Maxim V. Sinitsa,