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Swiss Journal of Palaeontology

, Volume 138, Issue 2, pp 237–248 | Cite as

A new vertebrate continental assemblage from the Tortonian of Venezuela

  • Jorge D. Carrillo-BriceñoEmail author
  • Andrés E. Reyes-Cespedes
  • Rodolfo Salas-Gismondi
  • Rodolfo Sánchez
Regular Research Article
  • 93 Downloads

Abstract

A wide variety of aquatic vertebrates from fluvio-lacustrine facies of northern South America (Colombia and Venezuela) have been used as unequivocal evidence to support hydrographic connections between western Amazonia and the Proto-Caribbean Sea during the Miocene. By the end of the Miocene, changes in the major hydrographic systems of the region produced losses of habitats and a regional faunal turnover, as has been documented in the geological record of the Urumaco region. Here, we report a new Tortonian aquatic and terrestrial vertebrate assemblage from two localities of the Caujarao Formation (El Muaco Member) in western Venezuela. The vertebrate assemblage includes a gharial (cf. †Gryposuchus pachakamue), alligatorid crocodylians (†Purussaurus and Alligatoridae indet.), a freshwater turtle (Chelus sp.), snakes (cf. Eunectes sp.), serrasalmids and pimelodids and thorny catfishes, a rodent (†Potamarchus sp.), pampatheres (†Scirrotherium sp.), sloths, as well as plant remains (coal and amber). Although the Caujarao Formation has been referred to as a fully marine environment, the new assemblage reported here suggests a freshwater input to the coastal area. Taxonomic and biogeographic affinities between the Muaco Member community and that reported from the Miocene proto-Amazonian systems are indicative of the persistence of ecological and hydrographic continuity at minimum until the end of the Miocene in at least an area of northwestern South America.

Keywords

Neogene Miocene Caujarao Formation Orinoco River Biogeography 

Notes

Acknowledgements

We thank to Marcelo Sánchez-Villagra for academic support and for the financial assistance (University of Zurich research monies) that made this work possible. We especially thank the Taratara community, the Museo Ángel Segundo López and the Instituto del Patrimonio Cultural de Venezuela (IPC) for the authorization to collect and study the specimens. To the Alcaldía Bolivariana de Urumaco, the Universidad Experimental Francisco de Miranda, the Museo de Ciencias Naturales de Caracas, in Venezuela, the Mapuka Museum of Universidad del Norte, Colombia; the Natural History Museum of National University of San Marcos, Peru; and the Palaeontological Institute and Museum at the University of Zurich, Switzerland, for their valuable assistance and for access to comparative material. We greatly appreciate comments, suggestions and collaboration provided by Dr. Torsten Scheyer and Dr. Gabriel Aguirre-Fernández. The Editor and reviewers (Dr. Edwin Cadena, Dr. Leonardo Kerber, and Jaime Villafaña) are thanked for their valuable comments and suggestions on the manuscript.

Funding

This study was funded/support for the financial assistance of the University of Zurich research monies.

Compliance with ethical standards

Conflict of interest

The authors declare that they have no conflict of interest.

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Copyright information

© Akademie der Naturwissenschaften Schweiz (SCNAT) 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Universität Zürich, Paläontologisches Institut und MuseumZurichSwitzerland
  2. 2.Departamento de Física y GeocienciasUniversidad del NorteBarranquillaColombia
  3. 3.BioGeoCiencias Lab, Facultad de Ciencias y Filosofía/CIDISUniversidad Peruana Cayetano HerediaLimaPeru
  4. 4.Departamento de Paleontología de VertebradosMuseo de Historia Natural, UNMSMLimaPeru
  5. 5.Museo Paleontológico de UrumacoUrumacoVenezuela

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