A Fossil Shrew (Mammalia, Soricidae) from the Pipe Creek Sinkhole (Late Neogene: Hemphillian), Indiana
Keywords: Sorex, Miocene-Pliocene boundary, vertebrate paleontology
AbstractThe Pipe Creek Sinkhole is one of two localities in interior eastern North America of late Neogene age (Miocene-Pliocene boundary) preserving fossils of diverse terrestrial vertebrates. This paper documents the occurrence of the sole soricid from the Pipe Creek Sinkhole, a long-tailed shrew of the genus Sorex. Two specimens recovered by screenwashing sediments consist of portions of lower jaws, one containing the m2 (second lower molar) and nearly complete posterior portion of the jawbone with articular condyle, and the other containing the m1 (first lower molar). The two specimens possibly represent one individual, and are not identifiable to species. Many present-day species of Sorex shrews exist across North America and they inhabit a wide variety of habitats, but most often moist, wooded microenvironments. Based on the fossil shrew, we infer the presence of a relatively mesic wooded environment in the vicinity of the Pipe Creek Sinkhole in the late Neogene; such an interpretation does not necessarily conflict with paleoenvironmental interpretations based on other evidence from the locality suggesting open savanna or parkland including pine, hickory, and other flowering plants.
Zoology and Entomology