Paper No. 164-6
Presentation Time: 3:00 PM
EVOLUTIONARY HISTORY OF CENOZOIC NEOTROPICAL TURTLES AND NEW FOSSILS FROM THE EARLY TO MIDDLE MIOCENE, CASTILLETES FORMATION OF COLOMBIA
Turtles are fascinating vertebrates with a very abundant worldwide Meso and Cenozoic fossil record, however for the tropical region of South and Central America, there are huge gaps in their fossil record limiting the understanding of their evolution, paleodiversity, and response to climatic and geological events, particularly during the last 65 Ma. Here, I present a review of the last ten years of discoveries on fossil turtles from the neotropics in terms of phylogeny, palebiogeography, diversity, and bone soft-tissue preservation. At the same time, I present new fossil turtles from the early to middle Miocene, Castilletes formation of Colombia, including giant tortoises (earliest record for tropical South America), large podocnemidids (pleurodira side-necked) and the first skull ever found for a MataMata turtle (Chelus sp.). I also discuss here the future challenges and exploratory targets in order to fill the remanining gaps, trying to understand the evolution of tropical turtles under a macroevolutionary perspective.