ANTECEDENTS OF THE MODERN TROPICAL AMERICAN CONE SNAIL FAUNA: PHYLOGENETIC DIVERSITY AND BIOGEOGRAPHICAL HISTORY OF LATE MIOCENE TO PLIO-PLEISTOCENE CONIDAE IN THE CONTEXT OF MAJOR REGIONAL ENVIRONMENTAL CHANGE
The phylogenetic positions of Neogene tropical American cone snail species from the southeastern United States (Plio-Pleistocene), Dominican Republic (Late Miocene and Early Pliocene), and Panama (Late Miocene) are predicted based on multiple shell features, including preserved coloration patterns revealed using ultraviolet light. Special attention is focused on fossils from the Late Miocene Gatun Fm. of Panama that were collected in July 2015 as part of the National Science Foundation-supported Great American Biotic Interchange-Research Experiences for Teachers (GABI-RET) project.
Preliminary results demonstrate that: 1) Neogene tropical American cone snails are phylogenetically diverse; 2) they have a complex regional biogeographic history; and 3) some extant lineages diverged earlier than has been suggested by previously published work. These results are considered within the context of major environmental changes associated with the Neogene closure of the Central American Seaway.