Fossil localities of the Santa Cruz Formation (Early Miocene, Patagonia, Argentina) prospected by Carlos Ameghino in 1887 revisited and the location of the Notohippidian

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Between January and September of 1887 Carlos Ameghino carried out his first geologic and paleontological expedition to the Río Santa Cruz, Patagonia. Based on the fossils and geologic information compiled, in 1887 and 1889, Florentino Ameghino named more than 120 new species of extinct mammals and his Formación Santacruceña and Piso Santacruceño (Santacrucian stage). Data published by both brothers state that the specimens were collected in outcrops by the Río Santa Cruz, between 90 and 200km west of its mouth. However, information in the posthumously published letters and Travel Diary of C. Ameghino allows us to recognize a fourth locality, Río Bote, at about 50km further southwest. In 1900, 1902, F. Ameghino divided the Piso Santacruceño in a younger étage Santacruzienne and older étage Notohippidéen, restricting the geographical distribution of the latter to Kar Aiken locality, northeast of Lago Argentino. However, 15 of the 54 species that F. Ameghino listed as exclusively Notohippidian stage already had been named on specimens collected South to the Río Santa Cruz in 1887, two year prior to C. Ameghino's first visit to Kar Aiken. Based on historical information and several expeditions to the Río Santa Cruz and its environs, in this contribution we establish the geographical locations of the 1887 localities, formalize their names, evaluate the stratigraphic position of the fossil-bearing levels, and analyze the geographic extension of the Notohippidian, inferring that Río Bote is where C. Ameghino first collected species that came to define the Notohippidian. © 2014 Elsevier Ltd.






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Fernicola, JC, JI Cuitiño, SF Vizcaíno, MS Bargo and RF Kay (2014). Fossil localities of the Santa Cruz Formation (Early Miocene, Patagonia, Argentina) prospected by Carlos Ameghino in 1887 revisited and the location of the Notohippidian. Journal of South American Earth Sciences, 52. pp. 94–107. 10.1016/j.jsames.2014.02.002 Retrieved from

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Richard Frederick Kay

Professor of Evolutionary Anthropology

I have two areas of research:1) the evolution of primates in South America; and 2) the use of primate anatomy to reconstruct the phylogenetic history and adapations of living and extinct primates, especially Anthropoidea.

1) Evolution of primates and mammalian faunal evolution, especially in South America. For the past 30 years, I have been engaged in research in Argentina, Bolivia The Dominican Republic, Peru, and Colombia with three objectives:a) to reconstruct the evolutionary history and adaptive patterns of South America primates and other mammals; b) to establish a more precise geologic chronology for the mammalian faunas between the late Eocene and middle Miocene (between about 36 and about 15 million years ago); and c) to use anatomy and niche structure of modern mammals as a means to reconstruct the evolution of mammalian niche structure in the Neotropics.

2) Primate Anatomy. I am working to reconstruct the phylogeny of primates based (principally) on anatomical evidence; and to infer the adaptations of extinct primates based mainly on cranial and dental evidence.

Field activities
Current fieldwork is focused on the study of terrestrial biotic change in Patagonia through the 'mid-Miocene Climate Optimum' when global climate was moderate and the subtropical zone, with primates and other typically tropical vertebrates, extended their ranges up to 55 degrees of South latitude.

In this collaborative research undertaking with colleagues at University of Washington and Boise State University, the geochronology of the Santa Cruz Formation at in extreme southern Argentina is being refined using radiometric dating. Stratigraphically-controlled collections have been made of vertebrates and plant macro- and microfossils. Climate change and its impact on the biota is assessed 1) using biogeochemical analysis of stable isotopes in fossil mammalian tooth enamel; 2) by documenting changes in mammalian community structure (richness, origination and extinction rates, and ecological morphology); and 3) by documenting changes in vegetation and floral composition through the study of phytoliths. These three independent lines of evidence in a refined geochronologic framework will then be compared with similar evidence from continental sequences in the Northern Hemisphere and oceanic climatic records to improve our understanding of the timing and character of climatic change in continental high latitudes during this temporal interval.

A second field project project in its early stages is the study of the fossil vertebrates of the Amazon Basin. The latter is a collaborative effort of biologists and geologists across schools at Duke (Nicholas School) and among six North American universities. My role is to direct the vertebrate paleontology component of this project in Brazil and Amazonian Peru. The hope is to recover primates from the Oligocene through Early Miocene. New material will shed light on the phylogenetic status of African Paleogene anthropoids, one of which may be the platyrrhine sister-taxon. Also, new remains of fossil primates will help to refine hypotheses about the origins of the modern families and subfamilies of platyrrhines, all of which trace back to an Early Miocene (17-21 Ma) common ancestor. Finally, new fossil primates may further constrain the time of entry of platyrrhines into South America.

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