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A fossil fish assemblage from the middle Miocene of the Cocinetas Basin, northern Colombia

By Gustavo A. Ballen, Carlos Jaramillo, Fernando C. P. Dagosta, Mario C. C. de Pinna

Posted 20 Apr 2021
bioRxiv DOI: 10.1101/2021.04.19.440491

Freshwater fossil fish faunas have been long used to infer past drainage connections, as they are bounded by physical freshwater barriers. Here we study a middle Miocene (15.0--15.5 Ma) fossil fauna (Makaraipao) from the Castilletes Formation in northern Colombia, nowadays west of the Andes. We record the presence of lungfishes (Lepidosiren), pacus (Mylossoma and Piaractus), armored catfishes (Callichthyidae), and red-tail catfishes (Phractocephalus). Extant members of all those groups (except the Callichthyidae, due to lack of taxonomic resolution) are found in Amazonian faunas east of the Andes and are absent from faunas west of the Andes, indicating that the riverine systems of the Guajira Peninsula were connected to Amazonia during the middle Miocene. The similarity of La Venta (west of the Andes) and Rio Acre (east of the Andes) fish faunas during the late Miocene further indicates that the northern Andean uplift was not a complete barrier at least until ~ 11 Myr ago. However, there is a continental-wide structuring of the Miocene fish faunas that is also found in the extant faunas, suggesting that other factors, in addition to the uplift of the Andes, have shaped the biogeographic evolution of South American fish faunas.

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