Marine vertebrate assemblages in the southwest Atlantic during the Miocene

  • Cione A
  • Cozzuol M
  • Dozo M
 et al. 
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Two biogeographical units are generally recognized in the present shelf area of Argentina: the Magellanian and Argentinian Provinces. The two provinces differ in their fossil record. The evolution of these provinces has been characterized by migrations, extinctions, pseudoextinctions and, perhaps, even speciation events. Marine verte- brate assemblages with some similarities to the Argentinian fauna were already present in the Miocene, whereas no associations similar to those of the Magellanian fauna have been found in South America before the Pleistocene. Two successive major marine transgressions flooded northern Patagonia during the Miocene: the ‘Patagoniense’ (Early Miocene) and the ‘Entrerriense’ (Middle to Late Miocene). We analyse three rich fossil assemblages that were formed during these transgressions. The absence of Magellanian Miocene vertebrate assemblages is consis- tent with the hypothesis of a more southern distribution of the cold-temperate fauna at that time. In Patagonia, as in other regions, an increased number of living groups appeared from the Lower to Upper Miocene. The Late Miocene aquatic mammals had a modern aspect, and some of the fish species are still living in the South Atlantic Ocean. In this contribution, we stress that warm-temperate fishes and a high diversity of penguins are found together at the base of the Gaiman Formation. We hypothesize that penguins were adapted to live in warmer waters than those of the latest Cenozoic and the Recent. Finally, we recall that many taxa became extirpated because of the global temperature drops of the late Cenozoic. However, some fishes and pinnipeds which were extirpated only in the Atlantic Ocean are discussed here.

Author-supplied keywords

  • Actinopterygii
  • Aves
  • Biogeography
  • Elasmobranchii
  • Mammalia
  • Shelf

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