Calibration of the Great American Interchange

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Science  20 Apr 1979:
Vol. 204, Issue 4390, pp. 272-279
DOI: 10.1126/science.204.4390.272


From radioisotopic (potassium-argon) age determinations of tuffs and magnetostratigraphy of Late Tertiary mammal-bearing beds in Catamarca Province, northwest Argentina, refined estimates have been obtained for the durations and boundaries of beds of Chasicoan (Middle Miocene) through Chapadmalalan (Pliocene) age. An age of 9.0 million years is tentatively accepted for the Chasicoan-Huayquerian boundary, 5.0 million years for the Huayquerian-Montehermosan boundary, and 3.0 million years for the Montehermosan-Chapadmalalan boundary. Procyonids (raccoons and their allies), a group of North American origin, are first recorded in South America in a level immediately below a unit dated at 6.0 million years. Cricetine rodents of the tribe Sigmodontini are first recorded in South America in beds of Montehermosan age in Argentina. Ground sloths, a group of South American origin, first appear in North America in Early Hemphillian time in beds dated between 9.5 and 9.0 million years. The Panamanian land bridge was established by 3.0 million years ago, and an interchange of the terrestrial faunas was well under way by Late Blancan time (around 2.5 million years before present) in North America and by Chapadmalalan time in South America.

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