New Peccary Findings at Cartagena!

jaw smallToday at Cartagena “hill,” the cohort [..Jorge] encountered two peccary findings about 500 feet away from each other: an isolated third molar and a partial lower jaw.


jacket smallThese were the only finds for the day, but the intact jaw and preservation of both the jaw and the individual tooth were really exciting.



Modern Chacoan Peccary in the Phoenix, AZ zoo. Photo courtesy of Dave Pape, via wikimedia.

Peccaries are a “New-World Pig,” omnivorous small mammals that still live in North America today. The genus of peccary found in these Miocene deposits, Cynorca, means “dog-whale.” We are unsure why.


We used the low rounded cusps of this molar to identify it as a peccary. Peccaries are omnivores, and this shape of tooth [similar to humans] is used for slicing tough plant material like roots, and crushing hard plant material like seeds.

tooth in hand small

This isolated molar can be identified as a lower molar because of its long, rectangular shape. The proportions of an upper molar would be more of a square. Generally 3rd molars also have an extra posterior cusp when compared to the anterior molars and premolars which have only two cusps.


Geological Evolution: Students Excavate Fossils from Panama Canal · News · Lafayette College

Sean Grim of Lafayette College (where two of our Summer 2014 interns hail from) wrote about some of their summer research and fieldwork in Panama.

Geological Evolution: Students Excavate Fossils from Panama Canal · News · Lafayette College.

Paleo Potluck with Dena Smith


Dena Smith (second from left) leads a discussion on Sept. 10 about job possibilities in paleontology, and the importance of developing a diverse skill set. PCP PIRE partially sponsored her visit to the Florida Museum of Natural History to discuss outreach and educational goals within the context of paleontology. Photo by Steven Manchester.



Bruce MacFadden serves BBQ meat to Dena Smith, Roger Portell, and Michal Kowalewski at the Paleo Potluck Party held as part of Dena Smith’s visit to the Florida Museum of Natural History. Photo by Adiel Klompmaker.

Fall 2014 Interns’ initiation to Panama

ONeillMercado normal fault in the Cucaracha Fm

PCP-PIRE interns Hannah O’Neill and Daniel Mercado sit on either side of a normal fault within the 19-million-year-old Cucaracha Formation. The line between Daniel’s right hand and Hannah’s feet marks the fault plane, the surface that formed when the rocks on the left side of the picture “slipped” 10 meters downwards, potentially during an earthquake millions of years ago. Photo credit Aaron Wood.

PearsonFreierman welded tuff of the Cucaracha Fm

Lillian Pearson, a PCP-PIRE intern, stands next to the welded tuff of the 19-million-year-old Cucaracha Formation. Welded tuffs form when particles of hot volcanic ash adhere or weld together after an ancient volcanic eruption. Zircon crystals from the welded tuff were radiometrically dated by PCP-PIRE scientists in order to know the age of the fossil animals and plants found in the rocks immediately below and above the tuff, such as the ancient soil that PCP-PIRE intern Adam Freierman is standing on. Photo credit Aaron Wood.


Fossil leaves Las Cascadas Fm

These rust-red imprints are the part and counter-part of a fossil leaf preserved in the 21-million-year-old Las Cascadas Formation of the Panama Canal Basin. The midrib, or central vein, can be seen on each imprint with a few veins branching off to either side of the midrib. Photo credit Nathan Jud.