The tropical region of South America has been long perceived as a hotspot of biodiversity. Many groups of organisms have their greatest diversity in tropical latitudes. Although the position of continents and temperatures in what is today the northern Neotropics has certainly changed across geological time, this region is the likely place of origin of several vertebrate groups. However, most of what we know about vertebrate evolution in South America comes from high latitude regions, south of the tropics. This book will help to address that imbalance. Urumaco and Venezuelan Paleontology represents a synthesis of the paleontological record of Venezuela, summarizing the most important areas and issues and including new discoveries on stratigraphy, paleobotany, fossil invertebrates and vertebrates. Besides providing a critical summary of the record of groups including decapods, fishes, crocodiles, turtles, rodents, armadillos and ungulates, several chapters introduce new information on distribution and paleobiology of groups not previously studied in this part of the world. Given its position in the northern neotropics, close to the Panamanian land bridge, Venezuela is a key location for understanding faunal exchanges between the Americas in the recent geological past. The book reviews the recent paleobotanical and vertebrate fossil record of the region, provides an understanding of Pleistocene climatic change and biogeography for the last few thousand years, and integrates new information with summaries of many works about Venezuelan geology and paleontology published in Spanish.
"[T]his worthwhile edited volume is a must for any scholar of South American vertebrates, fossil or modern." * The Quarterly Review of Biology * "This volume is a necessary and important contribution to our understanding of a diverse fossil assemblage from a region of the world that is sorely in need of further paleontological investigation." * Journal of Mammalian Evolution * "This book will be interesting for everyone who explores palaeontology, stratigraphy, palaeogeography, general geology, and biogeography of the northern part of South America. 2011" * Zentralblatt fur Geologie und Palaontologies * "Overall, Urumaco and Venezuelan Paleontology is an excellent synthesis and overview of Venezuelan palaeontology, aimed primarily at vertebrate palaeontologists, but providing information that will benefit other areas of research too." * Newsletter Palaeontology Dept., Natural History Museum, London * Fossils, both vertebrate and invertebrate, of South America provide a unique view of life of the past in contrast to faunas from other parts of the world. Though areas in the southern part of the continent have yielded much information, scientists know less about the fauna of the northern parts, particularly Venezuela. However, the last few decades have seen many new discoveries and descriptions. This book covers the biodiversity of Venezuela, its geology, paleoenvironmental trends, and some of its invertebrates and plants; six chapters focus on the principal vertebrate groups. Much of the book is devoted to the rich diversity of the Miocene Urumaco formation (hence the title), but chapter contributors do not ignore earlier and later fossil deposits. The chapters are highly detailed and extensively referenced. There are numerous geological sections, full-color geologic and vegetation maps, and even histologic sections of the bones of several fossils. The volume includes many restorations of fossil animals in life poses... Summing Up: Recommended. Graduate students through professionals/practitioners. - Choice -- D. Bardack, emeritus, University of Illinois at Chicago