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Urumaco and Venezuelan Paleontology

The Fossil Record of the Northern Neotropics

Edited by Marcelo R. Sánchez-Villagra, Orangel A. Aguilera, and Alfredo A. Carlini

Publication Year: 2010

Urumaco and Venezuelan Paleontology offers a synthesis of the paleontological record of Venezuela, including new discoveries on stratigraphy, paleobotany, fossil invertebrates, and vertebrates. Besides providing a critical summary of the record of decapods, fishes, crocodiles, turtles, rodents, armadillos, and ungulates, several chapters introduce new information on the distribution and paleobiology of groups not previously studied in this part of the world. Given its position in the northern neotropics, close to the Panamanian land bridge, Venezuela is a key location for understanding faunal exchanges between the Americas in the recent geological past. The book reviews the recent paleobotanical and vertebrate fossil record of the region, provides an understanding of Pleistocene climatic change and biogeography for the last few thousand years, and integrates new information with summaries of Spanish language works on Venezuelan geology and paleontology.

Published by: Indiana University Press

Series: Life of the Past


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pp. v-vi

List of Contributors

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pp. vii-viii

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pp. ix-x

My co-editors and I had originally asked Rick Madden to write a preface to this book. I wrote an email to Rick and told him the subject of the book was the Venezuelan fossil record, and that it would be nice if he were to write some words about paleontology in South America. Rick Madden has made major contributions and led studies in the northern ...

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1 Venezuelan Geography and Biodiversity: A Brief Introduction

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pp. 3-8

Venezuela is situated in the tropics. The northern coast lies almost entirely between 10 and 11 degrees north latitude, and the southernmost tip of Amazonas State is less than 1 degree north. The total area of Venezuela is a little over 900,000 km2. Broadly, three regions can be recognized in the topography of Venezuela: deserts and mountains in the north bordering ...

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2 A Short History of the Study of Venezuelan Vertebrate Fossils

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pp. 9-18

Paleontological and stratigraphical studies of South America have a long history, dating back to the prominent contributions of D’Orbigny (1835) and Darwin (1846). Detailed studies of this kind in Venezuela started later and with less known works, although early mentions of fossils are known. The most prominent explorer in Venezuela was undoubtedly ...

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3 The Fossil Vertebrate Record of Venezuela of the Last 65 Million Years

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pp. 19-51

In his 1940 “Review of the mammal-bearing Tertiary of South America,” G. G. Simpson summarized the scanty record of Venezuela (703–704): “Few as discoveries are, they are important because they show unquestionable affinities with fossil mammals of Argentina and none with those of North America. In view of the fact that no South American mammals ...

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4 Paleoenvironmental Trends in Venezuela during the Last Glacial Cycle

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pp. 52-83

This chapter summarizes and updates the main Quaternary paleoclimatic and sea-level trends recorded in Venezuela, and provides a paleoenvironmental framework for studies addressing biogeographical, ecological, and evolutionary topics. Venezuela has a number of localities that have provided paleoenvironmental sequences in the neotropical ...

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5 The Guayana Highlands: A Natural Laboratory for the Biogeographical and Evolutionary Study of the Neotropical Flora

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pp. 84-102

Several American regions are famous for their contribution to general biogeographical and evolutionary knowledge. Some examples are the Galápagos archipelago, which was decisive for the development of Darwin’s evolutionary theory; Beringia, which has been crucial to understand the human colonization of America; the Panamá isthmus, a milestone ...

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6 Mesozoic and Cenozoic Decapod Crustaceans from Venezuela and Related Trace-Fossil Assemblages

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pp. 103-128

The Tropical Caribbean Province is characterized by a high crustacean diversity (Boschi 2000), and 18% of the total corresponds to living brachyuran decapods. Fossil decapod crustaceans have been described ranging in age from Early Triassic to Pleistocene. Distribution patterns of Southern Hemisphere decapods reveal an amphitropical and interhemisphere ...

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7 Venezuelan Caribbean and Orinocoan Neogene Fish

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pp. 129-152

In an effort to document the diversity and distribution of Neogene neotropical fishes in time and space, in this chapter we summarize and analyze previous records in the Venezuela sedimentary basin and include additional unpublished fossil records. The investigation has identified ~ 209 taxa (56 elasmobranchs and 153 teleosts), ranging in age from Late ...

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8 Stratigraphy and Sedimentary Environments of Miocene Shallow to Marginal Marine Deposits in the Urumaco Trough, Falc

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pp. 153-172


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9 Fossil Turtles from the Northern Neotropics: The Urumaco Sequence Fauna and Finds from Other Localities in Venezuela and Colombia

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pp. 173-191

Turtles probably constitute the most readily recognizable group of all vertebrates, with their characteristic shell consisting of two parts, a dorsal carapace and a ventral plastron. Both parts are connected through a bridge, which completes the encasing of organs and even the shoulder girdle, the latter a unique feature among living vertebrates (present only ...

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10 Fossil Crocodylians from Venezuela in the Context of South American Faunas

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pp. 192-213

Crocodylian remains are among the most abundant fossils in the best known Miocene deposits from northern South America (Acre, Urumaco, and La Venta). Bony dermal armor plates (osteoderms), teeth, and vertebrae are a common find, among reptile fossils second only to turtle shell bones. Rarer, more complete remains, such as skull and mandible ...

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11 Fossil Rodents from the Late Miocene Urumaco and Middle Miocene Cumaca Formations, Venezuela

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pp. 214-232

Rodents are one of the most diverse components of the current South American mammalian fauna, being known from more than 160 living and fossil genera. They made their first appearance in the fossil record of this subcontinent at least 31.5 Ma (earliest Oligocene; Wyss et al. 1993; Flynn et al. 2003; Hitz, Flynn, and Wyss 2006), according to dated strata ...

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12 An Introduction to Cingulate Evolution and Their Evolutionary History during the Great American Biotic Interchange: Biogeographical Clues from Venezuela

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pp. 233-255

The Xenarthra are a peculiar group of mammals, with a long and successful evolutionary history that took place in America during most of the Cenozoic, from the Early Paleocene to the present (Scillato-Yan

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13 The South American Native Ungulates of the Urumaco Formation

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pp. 256-268

The mammalian fauna of Cenozoic South America is known from the scientific literature to be mainly composed of a series of different aggregate waves of migrants, which originally were recognized and characterized by Simpson (1950) as the first to the third “strata.” The living mammal fauna of South America still retains members of the three “strata," ...


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pp. 271-286

E-ISBN-13: 9780253002006
E-ISBN-10: 0253002001
Print-ISBN-13: 9780253354761

Page Count: 304
Illustrations: 8 color illus., 61 b&w illus.
Publication Year: 2010

Series Title: Life of the Past