Journal of Mammalian Evolution

, Volume 6, Issue 4, pp 335–365 | Cite as

New Discoveries of “Opposum-Like” Marsupials from Antarctica (Seymour Island, Medial Eocene)

  • Francisco J. Goin
  • Judd A. Case
  • Michael O. Woodburne
  • Sergio F. Vizcaíno
  • Marcelo A. Reguero

Abstract

Five new species of marsupials are described from the middle Eocene La Meseta Formation of Seymour Island, Antarctic Peninsula. Three are derorhynchid didelphimorphians; one species is a prepidolopid polydolopimorphian, and the last is a microbiotheriid australidelphian. Additionally, fragmentary specimens representing an indetermined derorhynchid and a possible marsupial are also described. The prepidolopid and one of the derorhynchids are sufficiently derived as to preclude any close relationship to other members of that family, but the remaining taxa show the closest affinity with species otherwise known only from Itaboraian and older faunas in Patagonia. This differs from the affinity to early Eocene (Casamayoran) taxa shown by the polydolopid marsupials and placental mammals previously known from the La Meseta Formation. The newly described marsupials indicate that the relict La Meseta Fauna is composed of forms that must have dispersed to Antarctica no later than about early late Paleocene, whereas the previously known taxa apparently arrived in the early Eocene. Ecologically, the La Meseta Fauna is composed mostly of small-sized marsupials of likely insectivorous to frugivorous habits and larger-sized placental herbivores. Whereas the ratite bird of the La Meseta Fauna was probably also herbivorous, the phorusrhachoid and falconid birds comprised a large and smaller carnivorous to possibly scavenging component, respectively. Compared to contemporary faunas of Patagonia, the medium- to large-sized marsupial carnivores are lacking in the Antarctic Peninsula. Nevertheless, the La Meseta Fauna is Patagonian in origin and affinity. In conjunction with new faunas of Itaboraian age (early late Paleocene) in Patagonia, the evidence available indicates that from at least Itaboraian time onward the land mammal fauna of Patagonia and northern South America, as well, is a self-contained unit, developing the diversity characteristic of the Paleogene in that continent, including the australidelphian (but South American) microbiotheres. This, in combination with the apparent separation of Australia from Antarctica at ca. 64 Ma, reinforces interpretations that the precursors of the Australian marsupial fauna most likely dispersed from South America to Australia in the late Cretaceous–early Paleocene.

Marsupialia Eocene Antarctic mammals Gondwana dispersals 

Preview

Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.

Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.

LITERATURE CITED

  1. Askin, R. A. (1995). Eocene terrestrial palinology of Seymour Island, Antarctica. In: VII International Symposium on Antarctic Earth Science, p. 14, Sienna.Google Scholar
  2. Bond, M., Pascual, R., Reguero, M. A., Santillana, S. H., and Marenssi, S. A. (1990). Los primeros ungulados extinguidos sudamericanos de la Antártida. Ameghiniana 26: 240.Google Scholar
  3. Bond, M., Carlini, A. A., Goin, F. J., Legarreta, L., Ortiz-Jaureguizar, E., Pascual, R., and Uliana, M. A. (1995). Episodes in South American land mammal evolution and sedimentation: Testing their apparent concurrence in a Paleocene succession from central Patagonia. In: IV Congr. Arg. Paleontol. Bioestrat., pp. 47–58, Asoc. Paleont. Argentina, Trelew.Google Scholar
  4. Bown, T. M., and Kraus, M. J. (1979). Origin of the tribosphenic molar and metatherian and cutherian dental formulae. In: Mesozoic Mammals. The First Two-Thirds of Mammalian History, J. A. Lillegraven, Z. Kielan-Jaworowska, and W. A. Clemens, eds., pp. 172–181, University of California Press, Berkeley.Google Scholar
  5. Brea, M., and Zucol, A. F. (1996). Estructura reproductiva femenina de una conífera de la Formación La Meseta, Isla Seymour, Antártida. In: Congr. Paleógeno Am. Sur, p. 28, Santa Rosa.Google Scholar
  6. Candela, A. M., and Goin, F. J. (1994). Revisión de las especies antárticas de marsupiales polidolopinos (Polydolopimorphia, Polydolopidae). In: III Jornadas de Comunicaciones Sobre Investigaciones Antárticas, pp. 55–56, Instituto Antártico Argentino, Buenos Aires.Google Scholar
  7. Candela, A. M., Goin, F. J., and Pascual, R. (1998). Los Polydolopimorphia (Mammalia, Marsupialia) de la Formación Las Flores (Paleoceno medio, Patagonia central, Argentina). Acta Zool. Lilloana 18: 158.Google Scholar
  8. Case, J. A., Woodburne, M. O., and Chaney, D. S. (1988). A new genus and species of polydolopid marsupial from the La Meseta Formation, late Eocene, Seymour Island, Antarctic Peninsula. In: Geology and Paleontology of Seymour Island, R. M. Feldmann and M. O. Woodburne, eds., pp. 505–521, Geol. Soc. Am. Mem. 169, Boulder, CO.Google Scholar
  9. Case, J. A., Goin, F. J., and Woodburne, M. O. (1996). Eocene Antarctic ameridelphian marsupials with tribosphenic molars: Implications upon marsupial biogeography. J. Vert. Paleontol. 16: 26A.Google Scholar
  10. Elliot, D. H., and Trautman, T. (1982). Lower Tertiary strata on Seymour Island. In: Antarctic Geoscience, C. Craddock, ed., pp. 46–55, Madison, New York.Google Scholar
  11. Gandolfo, M. A. (1994). Evolución del género Nothofagus Blune basada en su morfología foliar comparada, Unpublished thesis, University of Buenos Aires, Buenos Aires.Google Scholar
  12. Gandolfo, M. A., Santillana, S. N., and Marenssi, S. A. (1999). Flora y paleoclima de la Formación La Meseta (Eoceno-Oligoceno inferior?), Isla Marambio. In: Paleógeno de América del Sur y de la Península Antártica, Spec. Publ. 5, Asociación Paleontológica Argentina, Buenos Aires (in press).Google Scholar
  13. Goin, F. J., and Candela, A. M. (1995). Una nueva especie de Epidolops Paula Couto, 1952 (Marsupialia, Polydolopimorphia, Polydolopidae). Consideraciones sobre el patrón molar inferior de los Epidolopidae. In: VI Congreso Argentino de Paleontología y Bioestratigrafía, pp. 143–148, Asoc. Paleont. Argentina, Trelew.Google Scholar
  14. Goin, F. J., and Candela, A. M. (1996). A new early Eocene polydolopimorphian (Mammalia, Marsupialia) from Patagonia. J. Vert. Paleontol. 16: 292–296.Google Scholar
  15. Goin, F. J., and Carlini, A. A. (1995). An early Tertiary microbiotheriid marsupial from Antarctica. J. Vert. Paleontol. 15: 205–207.Google Scholar
  16. Goin, F. J., and Reguero, M. A. (1993). Un enigmático insectívoro del Eoceno de Antártida. Ameghiniana 30: 108.Google Scholar
  17. Goin, F. J., Reguero, M. A., and Vizcaíno, S. F. (1994). Novedosos hallazgos de “comadrejas” (Marsupialia) del Eoceno Medio de Antártida. In: III Jornadas de Comunicaciones Sobre Investigaciones Antárticas, pp. 59–61, Instituto Antártico Argentino, Buenos Aires.Google Scholar
  18. Goin, F. J., Candela, A. M., and Forasiepi, A. (1997). New, middle Paleocene marsupials from Central Patagonia. 57 Annual Meeting of the Society of Vertebrate Paleontology, Chicago, Abstracts, 49A.Google Scholar
  19. Goin, F. J., Candela, A. M., and López, G. (1998). New, Middle Eocene marsupials from Antofagasta de la Sierra, Northwestern Argentina. Geobios 31: 75–85.Google Scholar
  20. Hershkovitz, P. (1982). The staggered marsupial lower third incisor (13). Géobios Mem. Spec. 6: 191–200.Google Scholar
  21. Hershkovitz, P. (1995). The staggered marsupial lower third incisor: Hallmark of cohort Didelphimorphia, and description of a new genus and species with staggered 13 from the Albian (Lower Cretaceous) of Texas. Bonn. Zool. Beitr. 45: 153–169.Google Scholar
  22. Lusky, J. C., Reguero, M. A., and Vizcaíno, S. F. (1994). Geographical position applying Global Position System (GPS) in the Eocene land-vertebrate bearing localities from Seymour (Marambio) Island, Antarctic Peninsula. In: III Jornadas de Comunicaciones Sobre Investigaciones Antárticas, pp. 53–54, Instituto Antártico Argentino, Buenos Aires.Google Scholar
  23. Marenssi, S. A., and Santillana, S. N. (1994). Unconformity bounded units within La Meseta Formation, Seymour Island, Antarctica: A preliminary approach. In: XXI Polar Symposium, M. Zalewski (ed.), pp. 33–37, Warsaw.Google Scholar
  24. Marenssi, S. A., Reguero, M. A., Santillana, S. N., and Vizcaíno, S. F. (1994). Eocene land mammals from Seymour Island, Antarctica: Paleobiological implications. Antarctic Sci. 6: 3–15.Google Scholar
  25. Marshall, L. G. (1978). Evolution of the Borhyaenidae, extinct South American predaceous marsupials. Univ. Calif. Publ. Geol. Sci. 177: 1–89.Google Scholar
  26. Marshall, L. G. (1982). Systematics of the extinct South American marsupial family Polydolopidae. Fieldiana Geol. (n.s) 12: 1–109.Google Scholar
  27. Marshall, L. G. (1987). Systematics of Itaboraian (middle Paleocene) age “opossum-like” marsupials from the limestone quarry at Sao José de Itaborai, Brasil. In: Possums and Opossums: Studies in Evolution, M. Archer, ed., pp. 61–160, Surrey Beatty and Sons, Chipping Norton, NSW.Google Scholar
  28. Marshall, L. G., and Muizon, C. de (1988). The dawn of the Age of Mammals in South America. Natl. Geogr. Res. 4(1): 23–55.Google Scholar
  29. Marshall, L. G., Case, J. A., and Woodburne, M. O. (1990). Phylogenetic relationships of the families of marsupials. In: Current Mammalogy, Vol. 2, H. H. Genoways, ed., pp. 433–505, Plenum Press, New York.Google Scholar
  30. Massoia, E., and Chebez, J. C. (1993). Mamíferos Silvestres del Archipiélago Fueguino, LOLA, Literature of Latin America, Buenos Aires.Google Scholar
  31. Muizon, C. de (1991). La fauna de mamíferos de Tiupampa (Paleoceno inferior, Formación Santa Lucía), Bolivia. In: Fósiles y Fácies de Bolivia, Vol. I. Vertebrados, R. Suarez-Soruco, ed., pp. 575–624, Revista Técnica de YPFB 12, Santa Cruz de la Sierra.Google Scholar
  32. Muizon, C. de, and Brito, I. M. (1993). Le bassin calcaire de São José de Itaboraí (Rio de Janeiro, Brésil): Ses relations fauniques avec le site de Tiupampa (Cochabamba, Bolivie). Ann. Paléontol. 79(3): 233–269.Google Scholar
  33. Oliveira, E. V. (1998). Taxonomia, Filogenia e Paleobiogeografia de marsupiais “Poliprotodontes” do Mesopaleoceno da Bacia de Itaboraí, Rio de Janeiro, Brasil, Unpublished thesis, University of Rio Grande do Sul, Porto Alegre.Google Scholar
  34. Paula Couto, C., de (1952). Fossil mammals from the beginning of the Cenozoic in Brazil. Marsupialia: Polydolopidae and Borhyacnidae. Am. Mus. Novitates 1559: 1–27.Google Scholar
  35. Paula Couto, C. de (1962). Didelfideos fósiles del Paleoceno de Brasil. Rev. Mus. Argentino Cien. Nat. B. Rivadavia Zool. 112: 135–166.Google Scholar
  36. Richter, L. L., and Frangi, J. L. (1992). Bases ecológicas para el manejo del bosque de Nothofagus pumilio. Rev. Fac. Agron. Buenos Aires 68: 35–52.Google Scholar
  37. Sadler, P. M. (1988). Geometry and stratification of uppermost Cretaceous and Paleogene units on Seymour Island, northern Antarctic Peninsula. In: Geology and Paleontology of Seymour Island, Antarctic Peninsula, R. M. Feldmann and M. O. Woodburne, eds., pp. 303–320, Geol. Soc. Am. Mem. 169, Boulder, CO.Google Scholar
  38. Simpson, G. G. (1948). The beginning of the Age of Mammals in South America. Part 1. Introduction. Systematics: Marsupialia, Edentata, Condylarthra, Litopterna, and Notioprogonia. Bull. Am. Mus. Nat. Hist. 91: 1–232.Google Scholar
  39. Vizcaíno, S. F., and Scillato-Yané, G. J. (1995). An Eocene tardigrade (Mammalia, Xenarthra) from Seymour Island, West Antarctica. Antarctic Sci. 7(4): 407–408.Google Scholar
  40. Vizcaíno, S. F., Carlini, A. A., and Reguero, M. A. (1988). Primer registro de un marsupial didelphimorphia en Antártida. Su implicancia biogeográfica. In: V J. Arg. Paleontol. Vertebra., pp. 30–31, La Plata.Google Scholar
  41. Vizcaíno, S. F., Reguero, M. A., Marenssi, S. A., and Santillana, S. N. (1994). The fossil record of land mammals in Antarctica. In: XXI Polar Symposium, M. Zalewski (ed.), pp. 49–54, Warsaw.Google Scholar
  42. Vizcaíno, S. F., Reguero, M. A., Goin, F. J., Tambussi, C. P., and Noriega, J. I. (1999a). Community structure of Eocene terrestrial vertebrates from Antarctic Peninsula. In: Paleógeno de América del Sur y de la Península Antártica, pp. 177–183, Asociación Paleontológica Argentina, Spec. Publ. 5, Buenos Aires.Google Scholar
  43. Vizcaíno, S. F., Pascual, R., Reguero, M. A., and Goin, F. J. (1999b). Antarctica as background for mammalian evolution. In: Paleógeno de América del Sur y de la Península Antártica, pp. 199–209, Asociación Paleontológica Argentina, Spec. Publ. 5, Buenos Aires.Google Scholar
  44. Woodburne, M. O., and Case, J. A. (1996). Dispersal, vicariance and the Late Cretaceous to early Tertiary land mammal biogeography from South America to Australia. J. Mammal. Evol. 3: 121–161.Google Scholar
  45. Woodburne, M. O., and Zinsmeister, W. J. (1982). Fossil land mammal from Antarctica. Science 218: 284–286.Google Scholar
  46. Woodburne, M. O., and Zinsmeister, W. J. (1984). The first land mammal from Antarctica and its biogeographic implications. J. Paleontol. 58: 913–948.Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Plenum Publishing Corporation 1999

Authors and Affiliations

  • Francisco J. Goin
    • 1
  • Judd A. Case
    • 2
  • Michael O. Woodburne
    • 3
  • Sergio F. Vizcaíno
    • 1
  • Marcelo A. Reguero
    • 1
  1. 1.Departamento Paleontología VertebradosMuseo de Ciencias Naturales de La PlataLa PlataArgentina
  2. 2.Department of BiologySt. Mary's College of CaliforniaMoraga
  3. 3.Department of Earth SciencesUniversity of CaliforniaRiverside

Personalised recommendations