Journal of Mammalian Evolution

, Volume 24, Issue 1, pp 71–90

Fossil Cetaceans (Mammalia, Cetacea) from the Neogene of Colombia and Venezuela

  • Gabriel Aguirre-Fernández
  • Jorge D. Carrillo-Briceño
  • Rodolfo Sánchez
  • Eli Amson
  • Marcelo R. Sánchez-Villagra
Original Paper


There are significant geographic gaps in our knowledge of marine mammal evolution because most fossils have been found and described from Northern Hemisphere localities and a few other high-latitude areas in the Southern Hemisphere. Here, we describe fossil cetacean remains from five geological units in the South American tropics (Urumaco, Codore, Castilletes, Cantaure, and Querales formations) generally representing marginal marine depositional environments (estuaries, deltas, and tidal flats). While fossil cetaceans from Venezuelan Neogene localities have been previously studied, this paper includes the first descriptions of fossil cetaceans from Colombia, including a diverse assemblage of mysticetes and odontocetes. We identified and provisionally referred fragmentary remains to the iniid Ischyrorhynchus vanbenedeni and to the platanistid Zarhachis flagellator. The latter suggests the presence of Platanistidae in the eastern coast of South America during the early-middle Miocene, representing the second record of Platanistidae in South America and the first record of Platanistidae in eastern South America. Other less-diagnostic specimens are characterized by features commonly seen in longirostrine odontocetes such as Iniidae, Platanistidae, Pontoporiidae, Lipotidae, Eoplatanistidae, and Squalodelphinidae.


Odontoceti Mysticeti Miocene Cocinetas and Falcón Basins South American Tropics 

Supplementary material

10914_2016_9353_MOESM1_ESM.pdf (1.6 mb)
Supplementary dataThe Online Resource 1 includes unlabeled specimen photographs. Additional field data linked to MUN-STRI specimens can be downloaded from the Smithsonian Tropical Research Institute Geological Sample Database webpage ( using either the locality (e.g., “490006”) or the sample (e.g., “37698”) numbers. (PDF 1656 kb)

Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media New York 2016

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Paleontological Institute and MuseumUniversity of ZurichZürichSwitzerland
  2. 2.Center for Tropical Paleoecology and ArchaeologySmithsonian Tropical Research InstituteAncónPanama
  3. 3.Museo Paleontológico de UrumacoUrumacoVenezuela

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