The Caviomorphs: First South American Rodents

  • Thomas Defler
Part of the Topics in Geobiology book series (TGBI, volume 42)


The first rodents did not arrive in South America until the mid-Eocene, at about 41 million years ago. This recent discovery makes the history of the caviomorphs extremely interesting, since the earliest known rodents are now known to be from tropical forest and not from dry, savanna-like habitats as previously believed. The group is ancient and is clearly related to the African phiomorph rodents. In this chapter and in Chap.  8, I enjoy describing the probable mode of dispersion of caviomorphs and primates from Africa to South America, since so many have difficulties accepting rafting over the Atlantic Ocean. The history of caviomorphs in South America also includes giant species that appeared during the latter part of the Neogene, culminating in the 1000 kg Josephoartigasia of the Río Plata (Plate River). This chapter also has some original illustrations by Roman Uchytel and by others.


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© Springer Nature Switzerland AG 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  • Thomas Defler
    • 1
  1. 1.Department of BiologyNational University of Colombia, BogotaBogotaColombia

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