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Sci Adv. 2016 Aug 17;2(8):e1600883. doi: 10.1126/sciadv.1600883. eCollection 2016 Aug.

Formation of the Isthmus of Panama.

Author information

1
Smithsonian Tropical Research Institute, Box 0843-03092, Balboa, Republic of Panama.
2
Department of Marine Biology, Texas A&M University at Galveston, Galveston, TX 77553, USA.
3
Departamento de Geociencias y Medio Ambiente Universidad Nacional de Colombia, Bogotá, Colombia.; Department of Geological Sciences, University of Florida, Gainesville, FL 32611, USA.
4
División Paleontología Vertebrados, Museo de La Plata, B1900FWA La Plata, Buenos Aires, Argentina.
5
Smithsonian Tropical Research Institute, Box 0843-03092, Balboa, Republic of Panama.; Department of Earth and Environment, and Department of Biological Sciences, Florida International University, Miami, FL 33199, USA.
6
Department of Biology, University of Nevada, Reno, NV 89557-0314, USA.
7
Department of Earth, Ocean and Atmospheric Sciences, Florida State University, Tallahassee, FL 32306, USA.
8
Scripps Institution of Oceanography, La Jolla, CA 92093-0244, USA.
9
Smithsonian Tropical Research Institute, Box 0843-03092, Balboa, Republic of Panama.; U.S. Geological Survey, 3215 Marine Street (Suite E127), Boulder, CO 80303, USA.
10
Department of Geological Sciences, University of California, Riverside, Riverside, CA 92507, USA.
11
Universidade Federal Fluminense, Instituto de Biologia, Campus do Valonguinho, Outeiro São João Batista, s/n°, cep. 24020-141, Niterói, Rio de Janeiro, Brazil.
12
Department of Earth and Planetary Sciences, Rutgers University, 610 Taylor Road, Piscataway, NJ 08854-8066, USA.
13
Department of Earth and Environmental Sciences, University of Iowa, Iowa City, IA 52242, USA.
14
Laboratório de Paleozoologia, Departamento de Biologia Geral, Universidade Federal de Minas Gerais, Av. Antonio Carlos, 6627, cep. 31270 010, Belo Horizonte, MG, Brazil.
15
Department of Biology, Hamilton College, 198 College Hill Road, Clinton, NY 13323, USA.
16
Academia Colombiana de Ciencias Exactas, Físicas y Naturales, Bogotá, Colombia.
17
Department of Integrative Biology, University of California, Berkeley, 3040 Valley Life Science Building #3140, Berkeley, CA 94720-3140, USA.
18
Department of Geology and Geophysics, Texas A&M University, College Station, TX 77843, USA.
19
Department of Earth Sciences, Natural History Museum, London SW7 5BD, UK.
20
Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution, Woods Hole, MA 02543, USA.
21
Department of Invertebrate Zoology, National Museum of Natural History, Smithsonian Institution, Washington, DC 20013, USA.
22
Department of Geology, Washington and Lee University, 204 West Washington Street, Lexington, VA 24450, USA.
23
Department of Biology, University of Hawai'i at Mānoa, 2538 McCarthy Mall, Honolulu, HI 96822, USA.
24
Department of Paleobiology, National Museum of Natural History, Smithsonian Institution, Washington, DC 20013, USA.
25
Smithsonian Tropical Research Institute, Box 0843-03092, Balboa, Republic of Panama.; Department of Geology and Geophysics, Texas A&M University, College Station, TX 77843, USA.
26
Department of Earth and Planetary Sciences, University of California, Davis, One Shields Avenue, Davis, CA 95616, USA.
27
Smithsonian Tropical Research Institute, Box 0843-03092, Balboa, Republic of Panama.; Scripps Institution of Oceanography, La Jolla, CA 92093-0244, USA.; Department of Paleobiology, National Museum of Natural History, Smithsonian Institution, Washington, DC 20013, USA.

Abstract

The formation of the Isthmus of Panama stands as one of the greatest natural events of the Cenozoic, driving profound biotic transformations on land and in the oceans. Some recent studies suggest that the Isthmus formed many millions of years earlier than the widely recognized age of approximately 3 million years ago (Ma), a result that if true would revolutionize our understanding of environmental, ecological, and evolutionary change across the Americas. To bring clarity to the question of when the Isthmus of Panama formed, we provide an exhaustive review and reanalysis of geological, paleontological, and molecular records. These independent lines of evidence converge upon a cohesive narrative of gradually emerging land and constricting seaways, with formation of the Isthmus of Panama sensu stricto around 2.8 Ma. The evidence used to support an older isthmus is inconclusive, and we caution against the uncritical acceptance of an isthmus before the Pliocene.

KEYWORDS:

Central America; Evolution; GABI; Isthmian closure; ecology; land-bridge

PMID:
27540590
PMCID:
PMC4988774
DOI:
10.1126/sciadv.1600883
[Indexed for MEDLINE]
Free PMC Article

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