Chapter

Evolution of the South American Carnivores (Mammalia, Carnivora)

Edited by Francisco J. Prevosti and Leopoldo H. Soibelzon

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/9780226649214.003.0006
Evolution of the South American Carnivores (Mammalia, Carnivora)

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This chapter discusses the timing and pattern of carnivoran arrival and diversification in South America, as evidenced by the paleontological record. Although sampling deficiencies exist, the overall trend is one of staggered immigrations to South America followed by virtually unrestrained diversification (dampened only by a Quaternary extinction event). The last sparassodonts coexisted with the earliest South American carnivorans and there is no consensus regarding the role of carnivorans, if any, in their extinction. By any standard, however, the evolutionary success of carnivorans in the continent has been remarkable. The number of species presently inhabiting South America rivals the number of sparassodonts known from the entire Cenozoic. Modern South American ecosystems might still reflect the effects of the loss of these and other mega herbivores, and that this should be an area of further investigation.

Keywords: carnivores; paleontological record; Cenozoic era; mega herbivores

Chapter.  7293 words.  Illustrated.

Subjects: Biological Sciences

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