New early Miocene protoceratids (Mammalia, Artiodactyla) from Panama
Although Cenozoic protoceratid artiodactyls are known from throughout North America, species referred to the Miocene protoceratine Paratoceras are restricted to subtropical areas of the Gulf Coast and southern Mexico and tropical areas of Panama. Newly discovered fossils from the late Arikareean Lirio Norte Local Fauna, Panama Canal basin, include partial dentitions of a protoceratid remarkably similar to those of Paratoceras tedfordi from Mexico, suggesting a rapid early Miocene colonization of recently emerged tropical volcanic terrains (Las Cascadas Formation). Partial lower dentitions from the overlying shallow marine to transitional Culebra Formation (early Centenario Fauna) are here referred to Paratoceras orarius, sp. nov., based on relatively small size, shallow mandible anterior to p3, and narrow cheek teeth. New early Hemingfordian protoceratine fossils from the upper part of the Cucaracha Formation (late Centenario Fauna) include a partial male skull and several dentitions that, together with specimens previously referred to P. wardi (only known from the Barstovian of Texas), are here referred to Paratoceras coatesi, sp. nov., based on distinctly more gracile cranial ornamentation, relatively longer nasals, a smaller and wider lower p4 (relative to m1), and more bulbous lower premolars. Results from a cladistic analysis of 15 craniodental characters coded for 11 protoceratine species suggests that Paratoceras is a monophyletic clade with its origin in subtropical areas of Central America, spreading into the tropics of Panama during the early Miocene (Arikareean through Hemingfordian North American Land Mammal Ages [NALMAs]), and later inhabiting subtropical areas of the Gulf Coast during the middle–late Miocene (Barstovian through Clarendonian NALMAs).
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