[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: A fossilized cetacean vertebra was discovered within the inner section of the Padre Nuestro cave system in the summer of 2013. Padre Nuestro is a complex of freshwater caves and tunnels in Parque Nacional del Este of the Dominican Republic on the island of Hispaniola in the Caribbean Sea. The subaquatic complex has produced fossils from several mammalian orders, including Rodentia, Chiroptera, Pilosa, Insectivora and Primates. Yet, this Quaternary-aged specimen is the first and only evidence of a cetacean discovered at Padre Nuestro. Finding the remains of an oceanic-dwelling cetacean in a freshwater cave system in the Caribbean is significant, unexpected, and warranted further inquiry. The fossil is a mid-lumbar vertebra with unfused epiphyses. It was analyzed and compared to vertebrae of target Holocene species in the collections of the Smithsonian Institution’s National Museum of Natural History (NMNH). The search was first narrowed down to species that were historically present in waters around Hispaniola and then narrowed further to species that possessed vertebrae within the small size range of the fossil. The size parameter restricted the vertebra to the Suborder Odontoceti and the gracile morphology further limited identification to a few select species within the Family Delphinidae. Based on morphological features and species distributions, six species were compared in detail to the Padre Nuestro specimen: Stenella attenuata, Stenella clymene, Stenella longirostris, Stenella coeruleoalba, Delphinus delphis and Phocoena phocoena. The morphological analyses confidently place the vertebra within the Subfamily Delphininae and in the genus Stenella, with a possible allocation to Stenella attenuata or Stenella clymene. However, subtle differences evident among species of Stenella and the ever-present reality of individual variation make more precise determinations difficult.
Secondary Adaptations of Tetrapods to Life in the Water, George Mason University; 01/2014
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: The fossil record of bats is extensive in the Caribbean, but few fossils have previously been reported from the Dominican Republic. In this paper, we describe new collections of fossil bats from two flooded caves in the Dominican Republic, and summarize previous finds from the Island of Hispaniola. The new collections were evaluated in the context of extant and fossil faunas of the Greater Antilles to provide information on the evolution of the bat community of Hispaniola. Eleven species were identified within the new collections, including five mormoopids (Mormoops blainvillei, Mormoops magna, Pteronotus macleayii, P. parnellii, and P. quadridens), five phyllostomids (Brachy-phylla nana, Monophyllus redmani, Phyllonycteris poeyi, Erophylla bombifrons, and Phyllops falcatus), and one natalid (Chilonatalus micropus). All of these species today inhabitant Hispaniola with the exception of Mormoops magna, an extinct species previously known only from the Quaternary of Cuba, and Pteronotus macleayii, which is currently known only from extant populations in Cuba and Jamaica, although Quaternary fossils have also been recovered in the Bahamas. Differences between the fossil faunas and those known from the island today suggest that dispersal and extirpa-tion events, perhaps linked to climate change or stochastic events such as hurricanes, may have played roles in structuring the modern fauna of Hispaniola. and New York Consortium in Evolutionary Primatology (NYCEP), New York.
American Museum Novitates 06/2013; 3779(3779):1-20. DOI:10.1206/3779.2 · 2.19 Impact Factor
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: The nearly pristine remains of Antillothrix bernensis, a capuchin-sized (Cebus) extinct platyrrhine from the Dominican Republic, have been found submerged in an underwater cave. This represents the first specimen of an extinct Caribbean primate with diagnostic craniodental and skeletal parts in association, only the second example of a skull from the region, and one of the most complete specimens of a fossil platyrrhine cranium yet discovered. Cranially, it closely resembles living cebines but is more conservative. Dentally, it is less bunodont and more primitive than Cebus, with crowns resembling Saimiri (squirrel monkeys) and one of the oldest definitive cebines, the late Early Miocene Killikaike blakei from Argentina. The tricuspid second molar also resembles the enigmatic marmosets and tamarins, whose origins continue to present a major gap in knowledge of primate evolution. While the femur is oddly short and stout, the ulna, though more robust, compares well with Cebus. As a member of the cebid clade, Antillothrix demonstrates that insular Caribbean monkeys are not monophyletically related and may not be the product of a single colonizing event. Antillothrix bernensis is an intriguing mosaic whose primitive characters are consistent with an early origin, possibly antedating the assembly of the modern primate fauna in greater Amazonia during the La Venta horizon. While most Greater Antillean primate specimens are quite young geologically, this vanished radiation, known from Cuba (Paralouatta) and Jamaica (Xenothrix) as well as Hispaniola, appears to be composed of long-lived lineages like several other mainland clades.
Proceedings of the Royal Society B: Biological Sciences 01/2011; 278(1702):67-74. DOI:10.1098/rspb.2010.1249 · 5.05 Impact Factor