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Title: Fossil mammals of the late Miocene (11.6-5.3 million years ago) Santa Cruz Formation (SCF), Santa Cruz (Patagonia), Argentina.
Authors: De Iuliis, Gerardo
Kay, Richard
F. Vizcaíno, Sergio
Keywords: Xenarthra
Santa Cruz Formation
mammal evolution
Issue Date: 9-Jun-2008
Abstract: The Santa Cruz Formation is a classical site preserving abundant fossil mammals from a critical period of South American mammal evolution. Long isolated as an island continent, South America evolved a unique assemblage of mammals. Particularly interesting and abundant are the Xenarthrans (sloths, armadillos and anteaters). Previous research efforts, extending back over 100 years, have provided a good knowledge base, but are marked by inadequate recovery and insufficient geological information, factors which have hindered understanding of these mammals. Modern analytical methods require solid geological data tied to specimen recovery in order to provide advances in the morphology, systematics, biodiversity, paleoecology and phylogenetic relationships of these mammals. The proposed project includes the recovery and analysis of new remains from this site coupled with strict geologic control and dating. Research on this site is underway as a collaborative effort among several partners. This ongoing, multidisciplinary approach, involving experts from a wide range of scientific specialties, is beginning to unravel the history of these mammals and clarify their subsequent history, evolution and extinction. The recovery of new data begins with excavation, extraction, and transportation to a lab at a major institution for preparation, followed by various morphological, biomechanical, and phylogenetic analyses. My participation has been marginal, although, as one of the world’s leading experts on sloths, I have been invited repeatedly to participate fully to analyze the sloth material. Full integration into this project will permit better understanding of the currently unstable species-level sloth systematics. The collaborative aspects include working with closely Dr. F. Pujos (MNHN, Paris) on sloths, and integrating these results with the work of other paleontologists and geologists to provide a more comprehensive framework of the mammalian late Miocene faunal structure. This will provide the background from which further research on the phylogenetic relationships, evolution, and extinction will be based.
Description: PowerPoint Presentation
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