A Tropical Rainforest in Colorado 1.4 Million Years After the Cretaceous-Tertiary Boundary

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Science  28 Jun 2002:
Vol. 296, Issue 5577, pp. 2379-2383
DOI: 10.1126/science.1072102

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An extremely diverse lower Paleocene (64.1 million years ago) fossil leaf site from Castle Rock, Colorado, contains fossil litter that is similar to the litter of extant equatorial rainforests. The presence of a high-diversity tropical rainforest is unexpected, because other Paleocene floras are species-poor, a feature generally attributed to the Cretaceous-Tertiary (K-T) extinction. The site occurs on the margin of the Denver Basin in synorogenic sedimentary rocks associated with the rise of the Laramide Front Range. Orographic conditions caused by local topography, combined with equable climate, appear to have allowed for the establishment of rainforests within 1.4 million years of the K-T boundary.

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