Fossil Friday 5/6/16: A turtle dentary


UF 257195, the right dentary of a turtle, possibly Rhinoclemmys panamaensis (dorsal view). Photo © VP FLMNH.

Today’s Fossil Friday post is on the dentary, or lower jaw bone, of a turtle (possibly Rhinoclemmys panamaensis) found at the Hodges Microsite locality in the Cucaracha Formation of the Panama Canal Basin. The fossil is early Miocene in age. Its large size is notable as it is larger than any modern species of Rhinoclemmys.

To learn more about this specimen, read the publication on its discovery here.


Cadena, E., Bourque, J., Rincon, A., Bloch, J.I., Jaramillo, C., and MacFadden, B. 2012 New Turtles (Chelonia) from the Late Eocene through Late Miocene of the Panama Canal Basin. Journal of Paleontology 86: 539-557. doi: 10.1666/11-106.1


Fossil Friday 4/29/16: A white cockle


UF 208535, a valve of  Apiocardia n. sp. Photo © IVP FLMNH.

This week’s Fossil Friday post focuses on a white cockle of the genus Apiocardia. This bivalve specimen was collected from the Gatún Formation and is Late Miocene in age. This species was endemic to the Caribbean side of Panama.

To learn more about this species, visit the “Fossils of Panama” page on it here.

Fossil Friday 4/22/16: A New World Monkey

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UF 280128, the left upper first molar (M1) and holotype of Panamacebus transitus. Photo courtesy of Aldo Rincon, VP FLMNH and PCP PIRE.

This week’s Fossil Friday (and Earth Day) feature highlights an important new discovery that was just published in the journal Nature this week. Seven fossil teeth of a platyrrhine, or New World Monkey, named Panamacebus transitus were found at the Lirio Norte locality of Las Cascadas, and these teeth are the first known evidence of New World Monkeys in North America. The discovery of the teeth has also rewritten the history of mammalian dispersals from South America to North America, as they are the oldest record of a mammal dispersing from South America to North America with an age of 20.93 ± 0.17 Ma.

To learn more about this key discovery, read the publication on it here.


Bloch, J. I., Woodruff, E. D., Wood, A. R., Rincon, A. F., Harrington, A. R., Morgan, G. S., Foster, D. A., Montes, C., Jaramillo, C. A., Jud, N. A., Jones, D. S., and MacFadden, B. J. 2016. First North American Fossil Monkey and Early Miocene Tropical Biotic Interchange. Nature. doi:10.1038/nature17415

Fossil Friday 4/8/16: An artiodactyl tibia


UF 243751, an artiodactyl tibia. Photo © VP FLMNH.

For this week’s Fossil Friday post I present an artiodactyl tibia, perhaps one of a peccary (Family Tayassuidae) or a protoceratid (Family Protoceratidae). The curvature and the morphology of the end that articulates with the astragalus along with other features strongly suggests it belongs to an artiodactyl, however it was not found in association with other elements, like teeth, that could pinpoint an identification. This specimen was found in the upper Culebra Formation and is early Miocene in age.

To learn more about this specimen, read its description in the paper referenced below on peccaries found in Panama.


MacFadden, B.J., Kirby, M.X., Rincon, A., Montes, C., Moron, S., Strong, N., and Jaramillo, C. 2010. Extinct Peccary “Cynorca” occidentale (Tayassuidae) from the Miocene of Panama and Correlations to North America. Journal of Vertebrate Paleontology 84: 288-298. doi: 10.1666/09-064R.1

Fossil Friday 3/25/16: A basket clam


UF 221418, the two valves of the basket clam Caryocorbula stena. Note that the valve with the bore hole is much smaller than the other valve. Photo © IVP FLMNH.

This week’s Fossil Friday feature is the basket clam Caryocorbula stena. This specimen was found in the Gatún Formation and is Late Miocene in age. This bivalve would have been found in shallow marine waters, burrowing just under the surface of the sediment. One interesting characteristic of this basket clam is that it is inequivalve, meaning that one valve is much larger than the other.

To learn more about this bivalve, check out the Fossils of Panama here.

Fossil Friday 3/18/16: A gomphothere


UF 294322, a left lower third molar (m3) of the gomphothere Gomphotherium sp. Top: occlusal view, bottom: labial view. Figure modified from MacFadden et al. 2015.

On this week’s Fossil Friday I would like to show you a gomphothere tooth from Lake Alajuela (Alajuela Formation). Gomphotheres are extinct members of the mammalian Order Proboscidea (modern-day elephants are also members of this order). This specimen was found by Dr. John Turner in 1959 when he was a high school student. He discovered the tooth when he was at the Madden Boy Scout Camp (Lake Alajuela was formerly known as Lake Madden. The age of the specimen is difficult to discern, but it is likely mid- to late Miocene/early Pliocene in age. This specimen is the first known evidence of a pre-Pleistocene proboscidean in Panama.

To learn more about this specimen, read the paper detailing its discovery and taxonomy here.


MacFadden, B. J., Morgan, G. S., Jones, D. S., Rincon, A. F. 2015. Gomphothere proboscidean (Gomphotherium) from the late Neogene of Panama. Journal of Paleontology, 89(2): 360-365. doi: 10.1017/jpa.2014.31.

Fossil Friday 3/11/16: A corallum (Flabellum sp.)


UF 8906, the type specimen of Flabellum chipolanum. This specimen is from the Chipola Formation in Florida and is early Miocene in age. Photo © IVP FLMNH.

This week’s Fossil Friday feature is the fossilized corallum, or coral skeleton, of a coral (Phylum Cnidaria, Class Anthozoa) called Flabellum. The fossil in the photograph is from Florida, but a specimen identified as Flabellum sp. (UF 222226) has been recovered in Panama from the Gatún Formation and is middle-late Miocene in age.

Flabellum sp. (Hard coral) with extended polyps at night

A modern day Flabellum sp. Photo © Nick Hobgood, via Wikimedia Commons.



Flabellids (Family Flabellidae) are solitary corals, meaning that they consist of only one polyp with a mouth surrounded by tentacles (colonial corals are made up of several polyps). They are found from the Early Cretaceous up into the present-day. Today, they can be found worldwide.




Cairns, Stephen D. 2002. Flabellidae Bourne 1905. Version 28 October 2002. in The Tree of Life Web Project,

Dr. Jacquelyn Gill at UF

Today, PCP PIRE and other members of the University of Florida welcomed Dr. Jacquelyn Gill as she spoke about her research on extinction and climate change during the Pleistocene and how it can inform us about future climate change. Dr. Gill explained that large-bodied mammals helped buffer plants from changing climate and that megafaunal extinction may have caused plants to become more susceptible to the effects of climate change. Dr. Gill stressed that ecological interactions are strong factors in what decides a plant’s geographic range and that climate alone is not enough to explain geographic range – we should carefully consider these interactions when we are discussing conservation strategies for modern species. Dr. Gill is also an advocate for increasing diversity in the sciences.

To learn more about Dr. Gill’s research, follow her on Twitter and read about her lab on her webpage.

Fossil Friday 3/4/16: A fossilized fruit (Oreomunnea grahamii)


UF 00621-59109, the holotype of Oreomunnea grahamii. The specimen is shown in a lateral view (A), an apical view (B), and in cross section (C). Figure modified from Herrera et al. 2014.

For this week’s Fossil Friday post, I would like to show you a fossilized fruit called Oreomunnea grahamii. It was found in 2007 at the Lirio East locality of the Cucaracha Formation and is Early Miocene in age. This fruit belongs to the Family Juglandaceae, which is commonly known as the walnut family of trees. Before the discovery of this fossil fruit, the occurrence of the modern Neotropical genus Oreomunnea was mostly restricted to the microfossil record in the form of pollen.

To learn more about this fossil fruit discovery, download the publication by clicking here.


Herrera, F., Manchester, S. R., Koll, R., and Jaramillo, C. 2014. Fruits of Oreomunnea (Juglandaceae) in the early Miocene of Panama. Pages 124-133 in W. D. Stevens, O. M. Montiel, and P. Raven, editors. Paleobotany and Biogeography: A Festschrift for Alan Graham in His 80th Year. Missouri Botanical Garden Press, St Louis, MO.


Fossil Friday 2/26/16: A boa constrictor


A modern Boa constrictor imperator, which is a subspecies of Boa constrictor. Photo © Esteban Alzate.

This week’s Fossil Friday post highlights fossil vertebrae of the boa constrictor (binomial name: Boa constrictor) found in the Las Cascadas (UF 255000) and Cucaracha Formations (UF 237882 and UF 237883). These specimens represent some of the oldest fossil vertebrates from South America dispersing to Central America at 19.3 million years ago.

For images of the fossil specimens and for more information on them, be sure to read the publication on them here.


Head, J., Rincon, A., Suarez, C., Montes, C., and Jaramillo, C. 2012 Fossil evidence for earliest Neogene American faunal interchange: Boa (Serpentes, Boinae) from the early Miocene of Panama. Journal of Vertebrate Paleontology 32: 1328-1334.