In this issue of Palaeontologia Electronica Lucas, et al. (2009) question the validity f the Fassett (2009) paper that presented evidence for Paleocene dinosaurs in the San Juan Basin of New Mexico and Colorado. Their challenges focus primarily on the lithostratigraphy, palynology, and paleomagnetism of the dinosaur-bearing Ojo Alamo Sandstone, shown by Fassett to be of Paleocene age. The lithostratigraphy of the Ojo Alamo is addressed by Lucas et al. (2009) based on detailed studies of outcrops of this formation in two relatively small areas in the southern San Juan Basin where Ojo Alamo dinosaur fossils have been found. When viewed over its 13,000 km2 extent, the Ojo Alamo is seen to be a much more complex formation than these authors recognize, thus their perception and description of the lithostratigraphy of this rock unit is limited and provincial. Fassett (2009) presented a detailed discussion of the palynology of the rocks adjacent to the Cretaceous-Tertiary (K-T) interface in the San Juan Basin, including a 67-page appendix and 25 tables listing the 244 palynomorph species identified from these strata. The Ojo Alamo Sandstone produced 103 palynomorphs from five principal localities including one especially prolific sample set from drill core through K-T strata. Without exception, all samples collected from the Ojo Alamo Sandstone for palynologic analysis were found to contain Paleocene palynomorph assemblages. Lucas et al. challenge only one Ojo Alamo palynomorph assemblage from one of the five areas studied, stating that they were unable to find palynomorph-productive samples at that locality. They submit no new palynologic data that refutes the Paleocene palynologic age of the Ojo Alamo Sandstone. In addressing the paleomagnetism of the Ojo Alamo, these authors dismiss the presence of a critical normal-polarity magnetochron discovered in the lower part of the Ojo Alamo - magnetochron C29n.2n of Fassett (2009) with no evidence to justify this dismissal. This magnetochron has been identified at five localities in the basin, thus its existence seems unquestionable. At the Mesa Portales locality, this normal chron was found in Ojo Alamo strata containing Paleocene palynomorph assemblages verifying its identification as chron C29n. Other minor arguments of Lucas et al. (2009) are also addressed in this paper. In sum, Lucas et al. (2009) present no new data to contradict the data presented in Fassett (2009).
Additional publication details
Response to critique by lucas et al. (2009) of paper by Fassett (2009) documenting Paleocene dinosaurs in the San Juan Basin