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Bones, Clones, and Biomes

The History and Geography of Recent Neotropical Mammals

As explorers and scientists have known for decades, the Neotropics harbor a fantastic array of our planet’s mammalian diversity, from capybaras and capuchins to maned wolves and mouse opossums to sloths and sakis. This biological bounty can be attributed partly to the striking diversity of Neotropical landscapes and climates and partly to a series of continental connections that permitted intermittent faunal exchanges with Africa, Antarctica, Australia, and North America. Thus, to comprehend the development of modern Neotropical mammal faunas requires not only mastery of the Neotropics’ substantial diversity, but also knowledge of mammalian lineages and landscapes dating back to the Mesozoic.

Bones, Clones, and Biomes offers just that—an exploration of the development and relationships of the modern mammal fauna through a series of studies that encompass the last 100 million years and both Central and South America. This work serves as a complement to more taxonomically driven works, providing for readers the long geologic and biogeographic contexts that undergird the abundance and diversity of Neotropical mammals. Rather than documenting diversity or distribution, this collection traverses the patterns that the distributions and relationships across mammal species convey, bringing together for the first time geology, paleobiology, systematics, mammalogy, and biogeography. Of critical importance is the book’s utility for current conservation and management programs, part of a rapidly rising conservation paleobiology initiative.

432 pages | 26 halftones, 13 line drawings, 17 tables | 6 x 9 | © 2012

Biological Sciences: Natural History, Paleobiology, Geology, and Paleontology


"An exploration of the development and relationships of the modern mammal fauna through a series of studies that encompass the last 100 million years and both Central and South America. This work serves as a complement to more taxonomically driven works, providing for readers the long geologic and biogeographical contexts that undergird the abundance and diversity of Neotropical mammals."


“Excellent maps, charts, and tables support clearly written text. Recommended.”

E. Delson, CUNY Herbert H. Lehman College | Choice

“This excellent volume should . . . generate wide interest as an example of how to integrate science research across disciplines ranging from molecular genetics to paleontology as a means of exploring the dynamic history of a region. As both a synthesis of our current understanding and a user-friendly reference work (both taxonomic and subject indices are included), Bones,Clones, and Biomes will find broad use.”

Joseph A. Cook | BioScience

“Editors Patterson and Costa fill a huge gap in the literature of Neotropical mammals with this up-to-date volume. . . . The book masterfully provides a synthesis of the evolutionary history and biogeographic patterns of recent mammals along with comprehensive coverage of past faunas. This well-executed combination of paleontology and neontology makes Bones, Clones, and Biomes a unique and timely contribution to historical biogeography. . . .  No biologist interested in organismal evolution in the New World should skip this volume, and it is a must-read for mammalogists.”

Journal of Mammalogy

“I strongly recommend Bones, Clones, and Biomes to anyone interested in the recent or fossil mammals of the Neotropics, as well as to readers with a broader interest in the evolutionary history of mammalian faunas. You will be rewarded with a deeper understanding and appreciation of this fascinating fauna.”

Journal of Vertebrate Paleontology

“This fascinating compilation provides a sorely needed modern synthesis of the impact of geology, history, evolution, and ecology on the distribution and biogeography of Neotropical mammals. Covering mammal evolutionary history and dispersal since its early origins, and spanning current geographical distribution and diversity from the West Indies and Central America to Amazonia, the Andes, and Patagonia, this remarkably informative volume will force readers to revise everything they thought they knew about Neotropical mammals.”

Peter Meserve, Northern Illinois University

“Scientists have long recognized the value of South America as a grand evolutionary experiment. In this geologically and climatically turbulent region, long episodes of isolation from the rest of the world’s continents generated deeply divergent groups of endemic mammals, while plate tectonics dictated the sporadic infusion of new groups, generating new waves of diversification, adding new layers to the sequential accumulation of recent Neotropical mammal richness. In this compilation, the editors have brought paleontologists, geologists, molecular systematists, and biogeographers together to provide a much needed update on the unfolding story of recent Neotropical mammal diversity and diversification. This volume will be a welcomed addition to the libraries of a new generation of scientists seeking to unravel further the history of Neotropical mammal evolution in this fascinating and important region.”

Brett R. Riddle, University of Nevada, Las Vegas

“The new world tropics contain about a third of the known diversity of mammals, and this important work represents a modern synthesis of both paleontological and recent knowledge about the mammals of the region to better understand the current patterns of diversification and distribution. Our current understanding of plate tectonics, phylogenetic systematics, and huge advances in understanding the chronology of fossil mammal finds in South America argues that a synthesis such as that attempted here is timely.”

Don E. Wilson, Smithsonian Institution

Table of Contents

1 Introduction to the History and Geography of Neotropical Mammals
 Bruce D. Patterson and Leonora P. Costa

Part 1. The Geological Setting

2 Punctuated Isolation: The Making and Mixing of South America’s Mammals
Darin A. Croft

3 Origins, Radiations, and Distribution of South American Mammals: From Greenhouse to Icehouse Worlds
Francisco J. Goin, Javier N. Gelfo, Laura Chornogubsky, Michael O. Woodburne, and Thomas Martin

4 Cenozoic Andean Faunas: Shedding New Light on South American Mammal Evolution, Biogeography, Environments, and Tectonics
John J. Flynn, Reynaldo Charrier, Darin A.Croft, and Andre R. Wyss

5 On the Evolution of Large Size in Mammalian Herbivores of Cenozoic Faunas of Southern South America
Sergio F. Vizcaíno, Guillermo H. Cassini, Néstor Toledo, and M. Susana Bargo

6 Evolution of the South American Carnivores (Mammalia, Carnivora): A Paleontological Perspective
Francisco J. Prevosti and Leopoldo H. Soibelzon

7 A Molecular View on the Evolutionary History and Biogeography of Neotropical Carnivores (Mammalia, Carnivora)
Eduardo Eizirik

Part 2. Regional Patterns

8 Hierarchical Organization of Neotropical Mammal Diversity and Its Historical Basis
 Sergio Solari, Paúl M. Velazco, and Bruce D. Patterson

9 West Indian Mammals: The Old, the New, and the Recently Extinct
 Liliana M. Dávalos and Samuel T. Turvey

10 Biogeography of Central American Mammals: Patterns and Processes
 Ana Laura Almendra and Duke S. Rogers

11 Biogeography of Mammals from the Guianas of South America
 Burton K. Lim

12 Speciation in Amazonia: Patterns and Predictions of a Network of Hypotheses
 Cibele R. Bonvicino and Marcelo Weksler

13 Historical Fragmentation Shaping Vertebrate Diversification in the Atlantic Forest Biodiversity Hotspot
 Leonora P. Costa and Yuri L. R. Leite

14  Mammals of the Cerrado and Caatinga: Distribution Patterns of the Tropical Open Biomes of Central South America
 Ana Paula Carmignotto, Mario de Vivo, and Alfredo Langguth

15 The Role of the Andes in the Diversification and Biogeography of Neotropical Mammals
 Bruce D. Patterson, Sergio Solari, and Paúl M. Velazco

16 Mammalian Biogeography of Patagonia and Tierra del Fuego
 Enrique P. Lessa, Guillermo D´Elía, and Ulyses F. J. Pardiñas


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