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Review of the Mammal-Bearing Tertiary of South America

George Gaylord Simpson
Proceedings of the American Philosophical Society
Vol. 83, No. 5 (Oct. 31, 1940), pp. 649-709
Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/985134
Page Count: 61
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Review of the Mammal-Bearing Tertiary of South America
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Abstract

A century of study has revealed a long sequence of mammal-bearing strata in South America, but most of the details are still in dispute, innumerable gaps remain, and an adequate synthesis has not been made. Knowledge of earlier Tertiary mammals is almost confined to Central Patagonia. The later Tertiary is best known from elsewhere in Patagonia and other parts of the Argentine, especially the northern pre-Andine zone. The physical history revealed by these strata is summarized and a consistent nomenclature is proposed, distinguishing rock, time, and faunal units. The faunas themselves are more briefly reviewed and it is concluded that the basic fauna was probably of North American origin but, except for adventitious arrivals, developed in isolation until reunion with North America in the late Pliocene. There is no firm basis for world-wide correlation, but the evidence is most consistent with an arrangement approximately intermediate between such extreme views as those of Ameghino, on one hand, and Frenguelli, on the other. Known occurrences of South American Tertiary mammals outside the Argentine are scanty and mostly from the later Tertiary but are well scattered in six counties. Their main value is in demonstrating that South America, including its northern part, was a faunal and geographic unit long before the late Pliocene.

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