Chapter

Introduction to the History and Geography of Neotropical Mammals

Edited by Bruce D. Patterson and Leonora P. Costa

in Bones, Clones, and Biomes

Published by University of Chicago Press

Published in print June 2012 | ISBN: 9780226649191
Published online February 2013 | e-ISBN: 9780226649214 | DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.7208/chicago/9780226649214.003.0001
Introduction to the History and Geography of Neotropical Mammals

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The Neotropics are home to more than 1500 species of living mammals, almost 30% of all extant species. These charismatic organisms include remarkable animals found nowhere else on earth: armadillos and anteaters, capybaras and capuchins, maned wolves and mouse opossums, sloths and sakis. This biological bounty can be partly attributed to the striking diversity of Neotropical landscapes and biomes. The region supports lush rainforests (both temperate and tropical), parched deserts, sprawling savannas, thorny scrublands, alpine steppes, and towering peaks. A plethora of climatic and edaphic conditions accompanies and shape this biotic diversity. Another agency fostering its endemism has been South America's isolation as an island continent for much of the last 65 million years (Ma). However, unlike its Gondwana neighbor Australia, South America's history of isolation has been interrupted by a succession of continental connections that permitted intermittent faunal exchanges with Africa, Antarctica and Australia, and North America at different times.

Keywords: neotropical mammals; species; organisms; landscape; biomes; rainforests; biotic diversity

Chapter.  2089 words. 

Subjects: Biological Sciences

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