Nebraska Academy of Sciences


Date of this Version



Transactions of the Nebraska Academy of Sciences 32 (2011), 98-107.

Copyright © 2011 Nicholas A. Famoso and Darrin Pagnac.


The Mission Pit locality (SDSM V5314), near Mission, South Dakota, has produced a large collection of equid teeth obtained from the Miocene Ash Hollow (=Thin Elk) Formation. Ashfall Fossil Beds (UNSM Ap-116), near Royal, Nebraska, has yielded an extensive collection of equid cranial elements and teeth derived from the Cap Rock Member, Ash Hollow Formation. The two sites are interpreted to be Clarendonian in age [12.5 to 9.0 Ma], but may contain faunal assemblages from differing Clarendonian subages.

The two sites exhibit a notably similar composition of equid genera, including the tribes Equini (Pliohippus, Calippus, and Protohippus), and Hipparionini (Cormohipparion, Neohipparion, and Pseudhipparion). Both sites share the same proportion of the equid tribes Hipparionini and Equini. Approximately seventy-five percent of the equids at both sites are members of the Hipparionini tribe, whereas twenty-five percent are of the Equini tribe. The comparative composition within the Equini tribe between the two sites is nearly identical with differences in the absence of Calippus at Ashfall and a larger proportion of Protohippus at Mission. Only slight differences are observed in the composition of genera within the Hipparionini tribe between the two sites, with the Mission Pit containing a higher percentage of Neohipparion. The striking taxonomic similarity between the two sites is not only unique but also rare, suggesting a correlative relationship within the early to medial Clarendonian (Cl1 or Cl2). This similarity also suggests unique paleoecological relationships among equids and has a potential for insight into plant ecology and equid niche partitioning during this time interval.

Includes Appendix A & Appendix B.

Included in

Life Sciences Commons