Fossil Friday 1/30/15: A turritellid


UF 208182, the turritellid Turritella gatunensis. (Photo © IV FLMNH)

This Fossil Friday we’re going for a slight change of pace by introducing you all to an invertebrate! This specimen is an example of a turritellid, a high-spired marine snail (Phylum Mollusca, Class Gastropoda). Named Turritella gatunensis, it is found in the middle to late Miocene of Panama and several other Central and South American countries. Turritellids live in shallow marine settings and burrow just under the surface of the sediment, leaving their aperture (the large opening at the bottom of the shell seen in the photo) exposed to filter feed.

If you would like to learn more about this species of turritellid, check out the Fossils of Panama entry about it here. Two graduate students from Cornell University who worked with PCP PIRE also conducted research projects on turritellids, which you can read about in the Research section of the April 2014 eNewsletter here.


Fossil Friday 1/23/15: A rhinocerotid


UF 9079, the right dentary of Floridaceras whitei. The specimen is photographed in medial view, showing the inner portion of the lower jaw. (Photo © VP FLMNH)

The subject of this week’s Fossil Friday is a rhinocerotid (commonly known as rhinos) that has been found in Florida and Panama called Floridaceras whitei. Rhinocerotids (Family Rhinocerotidae) belong to the order Perissodactyla, the odd-toed ungulates. This specimen of Floridaceras whitei is from the Hemingfordian Thomas Farm locality in Florida, however it is also known from the Gaillard Cut Local Fauna (Cucaracha Formation) of Panama of similar age. This specimen consists of a right dentary with the lower deciduous second through fourth premolars (dp2-dp4), showing that this dentary belonged to a juvenile F. whitei.

If you would like to read more about Floridaceras whitei from Panama, read this paper on Miocene mammals from Panama here.

Fossil Friday 1/16/15: A fossil camel

VP 236939 occlusal

An occlusal view (showing the biting/grinding surface of the teeth) of UF 236939, a partial dentary of Aguascalientia panamaensis. From this view, you can see that this dentary includes the left and right canines (c1), the right premolars (p1-3), and the right molars (m1-3). The lowercase letters denote that these teeth are lower teeth while the numbers describe the position in the mouth. (Photo © VP FLMNH)

This Fossil Friday I would like to introduce you to a floridatraguline camel from the early Miocene Las Cascadas Formation of the Panama Canal Area, Aguascalientia panamaensis. An interesting fact about this fossil is that both the first premolar and first canine are caniniform, a feature shared among the camels of the genus Aguascalientia. Floridatraguline camels (subfamily Floridatragulinae) are an extinct subfamily of llama-like camels characterized by elongated snouts and relatively primitive dentitions. In the early Miocene their distribution in the rest of North America was restricted to subtropical areas such as Florida, Mexico, and Texas.

To find out more about this specimen and other floridatraguline camels, read the publication describing them here.

Watch NNB4 Live!

If you would like to watch the presentations being given at NNB4 live, check out the livestream on STRI’s website here. The page says that the next webcast is January 20th, however if you download from the “direct link” (see the “Problem viewing this page?” box on the page), the livestream of NNB4 should start playing on your computer’s media player if you are watching at a time when events are scheduled (refer to the Program and Abstract booklet posted in the last blog post here). If it does not work, follow the rest of the instructions in the “Problem viewing this page?” box on the page. Happy watching!

NNB4 Presentations Start Today!

GABISeveral of us from PCP PIRE are currently in Panama attending the fourth meeting of the Network for Neotropical Biogeography (NNB4). Today is the first of two days of presentations where we will hear and talk about exciting new research being done on the Neotropics. The conference is being live-streamed over the web here.  The live-stream will also be available after the conference.  If you want to get an idea of what our PIRE representatives are presenting on, check out the research overview page on the website to see brief synopses of their abstracts. If you want to read the full abstracts, see what other attendees are presenting on, or just learn more about the conference, read the NNB4 Program and Abstracts booklet here.

Fossil Friday 1/9/15: A shark

VP UF262197, a fossil of the centrum of a lamniform shark

UF 262197, the centrum of a lamniform shark. (Photo © VP FLMNH)

Great White Shark

The great white shark, Carcharodon carcharias. (Photo © Terry Goss)

This Fossil Friday we have a fossil centrum of a lamniform shark from the Lirio Norte locality of the Culebra Formation, which is early Miocene in age. The couplets of circular bands radiating out from the center, similar to tree rings, are believed to show annual growth. Chondrichthyans of the order Lamniformes first appeared in the Cretaceous Period and can still be found in the Atlantic, Pacific, and Indian Oceans of today. Lamniform sharks live mainly in tropical waters but can also be found in temperate areas, and they can live at depths ranging from shallow intertidal zones to as deep as 1600 m. Famous lamniform sharks include the extinct Carcharocles megalodon and the modern great white shark Carcharodon carcharias.

To read more about this fossil and other sharks from the Miocene of Panama, read the publication that includes this specimen here.

First huddle of 2015

PCP PIRE had its first huddle of 2015 yesterday and there are a lot of exciting things in store this month. Several members of PCP PIRE, including the Spring 2015 cohort of field interns, will be headed down to Panama from January 13-17 to attend the Network for Neotropical Biogeography 4 Conference (NNB4). Be sure to check in next week to see what they are doing. The new museum interns will be arriving at FLMNH January 20th and will be taking on a variety of projects including 3-D scanning. In outreach and education news, GABI RET has received many new lessons from their past participants and will be conducting new role model visits as well as picking the teachers for their next cohort (check out their website here to find out more). There’s a lot going on, so check back frequently to see what’s new!

Fossil Friday 1/2/15: A crocodylian

VP UF262800a

UF 262800, part of the skull of the crocodylian Centenariosuchus gilmorei. (Photo © VP FLMNH)

For the first Fossil Friday of 2015, we are going to look at the crocodylian Centenariosuchus gilmorei. This specimen was found at the Hodges Microsite at the Hodges Hill locality of the Panama Canal Zone. It is from the Cucaracha Formation and is early to middle Miocene in age. This species belongs to the crocodylian family Alligatoridae, which includes alligators and caimans, and according to phylogenetic analysis, it falls within the caiman subfamily (Caimaninae). Caimans, like alligators, have a low salinity tolerance, preventing them from living in marine habitats. However, the presence of this fossil crocodylian with South American affinities in Panama before the connection of North and South America suggests that there might have been a marine dispersal of caimans.

To learn more about this specimen and the implications of its discovery, read the publication about it here.