European early Eocene (Ypresian) mammalian biochronology, covering a timespan of about 8 myr, includes three distinct MP (Mammal Paleogene) reference levels MP7, MP8+9 and MP10. These are represented in the unique succession of the Minervois (Southern France) by the localities of Fournes (close to MP7), Sainte-Eulalie (close to MP8+9) and Azillanet (close to MP10). Considering homogenous terrestrial organic matter contribution (type III) as suggested by palynofacies and Rock-Eval pyrolysis, we here demonstrate that the organic carbon isotope curve of the predominantly continental Ypresian of the Minervois closely matches the marine standard carbonate carbon isotope curve. The here studied mammalian faunas and their supposed corresponding MP levels can thus be accurately dated and correlated on a global scale. The endemic Fournes mammal fauna, located just above the Eocene Thermal Maximum 2- ETM2, is assigned to mid-Biochron NP11 Calcareous Nannoplankton Zone. Accordingly, the Fournes mammal site is about 2.5 myr younger than the MP7 reference level of Dormaal (Belgium, latest Biochron NP9), about 1 myr younger than the MP7 mammalian locality of Le Clot in the Corbières (Southern France, late Biochron NP10 or early Biochron NP11) and very close to the Wasatchian Wa-5 mammalian biozone of Wyoming. A mid-Biochron NP12 age is inferred for the endemic Sainte-Eulalie fauna because of its position at the very top of (or just above) the isotopically negative "ETM3 interval", whereas the Azillanet fauna, recorded at the top of a δ13Corg positive trend above the "ETM3 interval", ranges from late Biochron NP12 to early Biochron NP13. Our results indicate that the shortterm hyperthermals ETM2 and ETM3 did not affect the endemic character of the mammalian faunas in Southern and Northern Europe during the MP7 to MP8+9 interval. The end of this mammalian endemism likely occurred during the early phases of the EECO (Early Eocene Climatic Optimum) in early late Biochron NP12.
- Organic carbon isotopes