Fossil Friday 12/26/14: A three-toed horse

VP UF236937b

UF 236937, a partial maxilla of the fossil horse Anchitherium clarencei. (Photo © VP FLMNH)

It’s Fossil Friday again and this time I would like to show you a specimen of a three-toed horse called Anchitherium clarencei. It was found at the Centenario Bridge Locality of the Gaillard Cut in Panama (Cucaracha Formation). It is from the middle Miocene and is about 18 to 15 million years old. Although this species was found in North American localities such as those in Nebraska and South Dakota, the discovery of this specimen extended the range of this species down to the ancient Neotropics. The low-crowned (brachyodont) dentition of this fossil horse suggests that it was a browser, eating the leaves of plants that grow higher off the ground such as shrubs and trees (as opposed to grazers, which eat grass and other low-growing vegetation).

To learn more about this specimen, read the publication about it here.


Fossil Friday 12/19/14: A turtle

VP UF237887

UF 237887, the partially articulated shell of Rhinoclemmys panamaensis. (Photo © VP FLMNH)

Black wood turtle

A black wood turtle (black river turtle), Rhinoclemmys funerea. (Photo © Hans Hillewaert)


This Fossil Friday I would like to introduce you to Rhinoclemmys panamaensis. This specimen was collected from the Cucaracha Formation under the Centenario Bridge and is early to middle Miocene in age. The genus to which this species belongs (Rhinoclemmys) is commonly called the Neotropical wood turtles and the members of this genus are the only living representatives of the family Geomydidae in the New World (although they have great diversity in the Old World).This species is distinguished from other members of the genus by its large size, and it might have looked most like the extant black wood turtle, or black river turtle, Rhinoclemmys funerea.

If you would like to find out more about this specimen and other turtles from Panama, read the publication here.

Changes Coming to PCP PIRE

Fall2014 interns preparing marlin jacket

The four Fall 2014 field interns preparing a marlin jacket with Jorge Moreno Bernal. Photo by Daniel Mercado.

PCP PIRE has experienced a lot of change this December. Our Fall 2014 cohort of field interns will be finishing up their work at FLMNH this Thursday and will be leaving on Friday morning. We were happy to have them at the museum and in the field in Panama and wish them luck with their future endeavors. In January, a new batch of field interns will be heading to Panama and the first set of museum interns will be arriving at FLMNH.

A few of the leadership positions in PCP-PIRE have also changed. Our former Project Manager and post-doctoral associate, Aaron Wood, has moved on to a new job with the Department of Geological and Atmospheric Sciences at Iowa State University as the new director of the Carl F. Vondra Geology Field Station. We wish Aaron the best of luck at his new job and thank him for his service with PCP-PIRE. Our new Project Manager and post-doctoral associate is former Project Assistant Cristina Robins and the new Project Assistant is museum intern Dawn Mitchell. We look forward to seeing what these changes and the new year will bring us!

NSF Post-doc Amanda Waite at AGU

Currently Amanda Waite (featured in the September eNewsletter) as well as several other PCP PIRE affiliates are at the American Geophysical Union Annual Meeting in San Francisco.  Amanda is live-tweeting the event, so be sure to follow here on Twitter: @amandajwaite

Fossil Friday 12/12/14 : An anthracothere

VP UF244187

The left dentary of the anthracothere, Arretotherium meridionale (Photo © VP FLMNH)

The specimen for this Fossil Friday is the left lower jaw (dentary) of a juvenile anthracothere Arretotherium meridionale. Anthracotheres were considered an extinct family of artiodactyls, however new phylogenetic evidence suggests that one of its subfamilies might be be related to hippopotamids, commonly called hippos, which are alive today. This specimen is a member of that subfamily, called Bothriodontinae. This specimen was found in the upper Las Cascadas formation in Panama and is likely from the late Arikareean NALMA. It is the first member of the anthracothere family to be found in Central America. The specimen can be distinguished as a juvenile because the dentary still has some of the deciduous (milk) teeth.

If you want to read more about this specimen, read the publication about it here:

Welcome back, Field Interns!

Lillian working in prep lab

Intern Lillian Pearson preparing a piece of rhino vertebra with a carbide pick at a prep lab station. (Photograph © Dawn Mitchell)

We would like to welcome the Fall 2014 cohort of PCP-PIRE field interns back to the Florida Museum of Natural History. After over three months of fieldwork, Hannah, Daniel, Adam, and Lillian returned from Panama this week and will be working at FLMNH until December 19th. They will be processing fossils from Panama and doing fossil preparation. The interns have started off by helping prepare a lumbar vertebra of a fossil rhinoceros from the Cucaracha Formation. The vertebra has been broken into several pieces and the interns are cleaning the pieces so that they can be put back together later. It’s quite a change from working out in the field in Panama, but we are happy to have them back and to have their help here at the museum!