Eocene mammal tracks from the southeastern Tibetan Plateau
Late Eocene artiodactyl and creodont tracks have been reported from the Jianchuan Basin, southeastern Tibetan Plateau, representing the first and the oldest reported mammal tracks in Yunnan Province, China. Sedimentary facies analysis indicates that tracks from the upper Baoxiangsi Formation and the lower Shuanghe Formation occurred in lake shore and flood plain environments, respectively. Based on the morphological analysis, the artiodactyl tracks from the Baoxiangsi Formation are attributed to Anoplotheriipus zeuctus. Combined with fossil records and morphological characteristics, the artiodactyl and creodont tracks were probably produced by entelodonts and mesonychids, respectively. The superimposition of artiodactyl tracks with varying sizes indicates coexistence of juveniles and adults as well as their gregarious behaviour. The co-occurrence of artiodactyl tracks and creodont tracks suggests the predator–prey relationship and ecological chain during the late Eocene. The presence of mammal tracks in the Jianchuan Basin coincides with the climate change from dry to wet in the late Eocene, implying the climatic and ecological effects of the uplift of the Tibetan Plateau.