Fossil Friday 1/29/16: A camel astragalus


UF 244163, the right astragalus of Aguascalientia panamaensis. Photo © VP FLMNH.

This week’s Fossil Friday features an astragalus of the camel Aguascalientia panamaensis. You can easily tell that these and other camels are artiodactyls (even-toed ungulates) from their double pulley astragalus. This specimen was found at the Lirio Norte site of the Las Cascadas Formation and is early Miocene in age.


Fossil Friday 1/22/16: A turrid snail


UF 208176, the shell of Hindsiclava consors. Many turrid snails are venomous and can inject venom into their prey using their specialized radula. Photo © IVP FLMNH.

This week’s Fossil Friday post features the turrid snail Hindsiclava consors (Family Turridae). H. consors would have been found in both on the Caribbean and the Pacific sides of Panama from the early Miocene to the late Pliocene. This specimen was found by Gary Morgan in the Gatún Formation and is late Miocene in age.

Christmas tree worm

Two Christmas tree worms (Spirobranchus giganteus). Photo by Nick Hobgood.

This family of predatory snails is known to prey primarily on polychaete worms (Phylum Annelida, Class Polychaeta). One modern-day polychaete worm is the Christmas tree worm, which uses its Christmas tree-shaped appendages for respiration and for filter feeding.

To learn more about this turrid snail, see the “Fossils of Panama” post on it here.

Fossil Friday 1/15/16: A camel mandible


UF 254113, the right mandible of Aguascalientia minuta. The left mandible of this particular individual (not shown here) was also recovered and has the same catalog number. Photo © VP FLMNH.

This week’s Fossil Friday is the mandible of the camel Aguascalientia minuta. This specimen was found at the Lirio Norte Graben site in the Las Cascadas Formation and is early Miocene in age. This fossil camel species is the smallest known floridatraguline (Family Floridatragulinae).

To learn more about this specimen, read the publication on it here. Also, be sure to check out another floridatraguline from Panama (Aguascalientia panamaensis) at one of our previous Fossil Friday posts here.


Rincon, A., Bloch, J.I., Suarez, C., MacFadden, B.J., and Jaramillo, C. 2012 New Floridatragulines (Mammalia, Camelidae) From The Early Miocene Las Cascadas Formation, Panama. Journal of Vertebrate Paleontology, 32: 456-475.

Isla Barro Colorado


On the boat from Gamboa

Last month some visitors from the States and I had the opportunity to take a three hour guided tour of Barro Colorado Island. One of my friends noted that you should always be Leery of a three hour tour to an island after the fate of the Skipper and Gilligan. But we decided to brave it anyway.

The island was established as a biological reserve in 1923 and has been administered by the Smithsonian since 1946. It is part of the Barro Colorado Nature Monument that includes five surrounding peninsulas and encompasses 12,000 acres. Every year hundreds of scientists come to Panama to do research at the Smithsonian Tropical Research Center on the island.

The island is located in the middle of Lake Gatun, a man-made lake formed when they dammed the Chagres river to build the Panama Canal. The tropical forest on the island is home to a diverse population of wildlife including over 120 species of mammals.

imageThe tour began with an hour long boat ride along the canal to the dock at Barro Colorado. It was fascinating to sail alongside the big ships that were traversing the canal route. My friend is a merchant marine and was able to educate us about the types of ships we were passing and what they might carrying.

We headed out for our hike through the forest. Along the way we were introduced to incredible flora and fauna. We saw roosting fruit bats, eggs of the red eye tree frog, foam nest of the tungara frog, a coati, walking trees, howler monkeys, poisonous caterpillars, a tinamou (a turkey like bird), spiders dining on something deli, leaf cutter ants, and agoutis along with many more amazing plants and animals.

We finished up with a buffet lunch of fish and rice, and a boat ride back to the dock in Gamboa, tired, happy and full of great food! If you get a chance to go on this tour I give it two thumbs up!    (All photos by Sara ElShafie)

Fossil Friday 1/8/16: A protoceratid skull


UF 223585, the partial skull of Paratoceras coatesi. You can see the orbital where the eye would have been on this specimen. Photo © VP FLMNH.

Welcome to the first Fossil Friday post of 2016! This week we have an exciting specimen to present: a partial skull of the protoceratid Paratoceras coatesi. This specimen is the holotype of the species and was found in the Escobar Section locality of the Cucaracha Formation (early Miocene).

To learn more about this species of protoceratid, check out one of our previous Fossil Friday posts that includes the paper where it is described.