The Tropics as Reservoir of Otherwise Extinct Mammals: The Case of Rodents from a New Pliocene Faunal Assemblage from Northern Venezuela

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We report a new vertebrate assemblage from the Pliocene Vergel Member of the San Gregorio Formation in northwestern Venezuela, which includes Crocodylia and Testudines indet., toxodonts, at least four species of xenarthrans of the Dasypodidae, Pampatheriidae, Glyptodontidae and Megatheriidae, and rodents. The last are Cardiatherium, cf. Caviodon (Hydrochoeridae), Neoepiblema (Neoepiblemidae), and what is here described as a new genus of a low-crowned octodontoid. cf. Caviodon is the first cardiomyine for northern South America. The rodent assemblage resembles in its ecological composition those of the late Miocene (Huayquerian) from the “Mesopotamian” of Argentina and the Acre region in Brazil, with partially overlapping systematic composition. The stratigraphic position of the San Gregorio Formation and mammals other than caviomorphs suggest a late Pliocene age for these sediments, implying the endurance of rodent taxa beyond their biochron in southern South America.

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