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Early Oligocene chinchilloid caviomorphs from Puerto Rico and the initial rodent colonization of the West Indies

Abstract : By their past and present diversity, rodents are among the richest components of Caribbean land mammals. Many of these became extinct recently. Causes of their extirpation, their phylogenetic affinities, the timing of their arrival in the West Indies, and their biogeographical history are all ongoing debated issues. Here we report the discovery of dental remains from lower Oligocene deposits (~29.5 Ma) of Puerto Rico. Their morphology attests to the presence of two distinct species of chinchilloid caviomorphs, closely related to dinomyids in a phylogenetic analysis, and thus of undisputable South American origin. These fossils represent the earliest Caribbean rodents known thus far. They could extend back to 30 Ma the lineages of some recently-extinct Caribbean giant rodents (Elasmodontomys and Amblyrhiza), which are also retrieved here as chinchilloids. This new find has substantial biogeographical implications since it demonstrates an early dispersal of land mammals from South America to the West Indies, perhaps via the emergence of the Aves Ridge that occurred ca. 35–33 Ma (GAARlandia hypothesis). Considering both this new palaeontological evidence and recent molecular divergence estimates, the natural colonisation of the West Indies by rodents likely occurred through multiple and time-staggered dispersal events (chinchilloids, then echimyid octodontoids [spiny rats/hutias], caviids, and lastly oryzomyin muroids [rice rats]).
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Contributeur : Laurent Marivaux <>
Soumis le : mercredi 17 juin 2020 - 16:02:41
Dernière modification le : vendredi 18 septembre 2020 - 14:34:42


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Laurent Marivaux, Jorge Vélez-Juarbe, Gilles Merzeraud, Francois Pujos, Lázaro Viñola López, et al.. Early Oligocene chinchilloid caviomorphs from Puerto Rico and the initial rodent colonization of the West Indies. Proceedings of the Royal Society B: Biological Sciences, Royal Society, The, 2020, 287, pp.20192806. ⟨10.1098/rspb.2019.2806⟩. ⟨hal-02477415⟩



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