The well-known Maastrichtian-Ypresian vertebrate-bearing phosphate series, in the Ouled Abdoun Basin, Morocco, is classically dated using regional selachian biostratigraphic zonation. These marine sediments yielded Paleocene and Eocene mammals comprising the earliest known placentals from Africa. This study provides the first insight into the organic carbon isotope chemostratigraphy (δ13Corg) of the Moroccan phosphate series and a refined dating of its vertebrate-bearing levels. Four Paleocene-Eocene sections in the NE Ouled Abdoun quarries show consistent δ13Corg long term evolutions, from the base to the top: 1) positive trend in phosphorite Bed IIa, beginning with the lower Bone Bed yielding mammals such as Eritherium, Ocepeia, Abdounodus, Lahimia, of early Thanetian and Selandian age; 2) transitional negative trend in the Intercalary phosphorite Beds II/I that includes the Otodus obliquus and Phosphatherium escuilliei Bone Bed of earliest Ypresian age; 3) negative trend to the lowermost δ13Corg values that are correlative to the early-middle Ypresian interval including ETM 2 and ETM 3 hyperthermal events in the global record; 4) positive trend in chert-enriched facies containing the middle Ypresian EECO global climatic event. Our chemostratigraphic study of the Ouled Abdoun phosphate series provides a new chronostratigraphic framework for calibrating the beginning of the evolution of placental mammals in Africa. The lower Bone Bed level from the Paleocene phosphorite Bed IIa yielding Eritherium is not younger than early Thanetian, and is most likely Selandian. The Phosphatherium Bone Bed in the Intercalary Beds II/I is earliest Ypresian. The phosphorite Bed 0, from which Daouitherium probably came, is early-middle Ypresian, just below the EECO. This suggests that the first large proboscideans evolved after the PETM, during mid-Ypresian warming events. The δ13Corg study does not support the presence of Lutetian in the NE Ouled Abdoun phosphate series and suggests that a noticeable part of the upper Thanetian is absent.
- African mammals
- Carbon isotopes
- Ouled Abdoun Basin
- Paleocene-Eocene phosphorites