Javier Mendez reports for El Deber:
Darin Croft: “Bolivia has famous fossils”
When not in the Quebrada Honda, looking for fossils as the recently identified, teaches anatomy or grown fruits, vegetables and ornamental shrubs. Sure, he does not lose the opportunity to enjoy a “pique macho” or pork tamales at Tupiza’s market (not forgetting the llauchas from La Paz). He described the finding of the predatory. What was this creature?
It belongs to an extinct group of mammals known as esparasodontes. Were marsupials (relatives of current opposum) that occupied the ecological functions of modern cats, dogs and other carnivorous mammals up to about five million years ago. As modern cats and weasels, and unlike modern coatis raccoons, this predator was rather carnivore omnivore. Weighed between one and two kilos. Probably hunted on the ground, but also may have been able to hunt in low trees.
Why is it difficult to make an artistic recreation ?
It would be very difficult because you have only a relatively small portion of the animal. Although the sample is very useful for identifying the species, provides little information about its general form. In addition, since this species is not closely related to other members of his small group, we can not use a skeleton of a close relative to say how its body looked.
Why Quebrada Honda is an interesting place to look for fossils ?
Because many of the specimens found are well preserved and are relatively complete. With this type of debris, we can determine many aspects of the lifestyles of these extinct creatures. In addition, the area of Quebrada Honda is located about 3,600 meters above sea level, but was lower when mammals lived there about 13 million years ago. By studying fossils and rocks at Quebrada Honda, we will have a better idea of the elevation of the area 13 million years ago. This will help us understand how and when were the Andes and the Altiplano, and how the rise of the Andes affected the climate, vegetation and mammals.
Are there any other sites where you can search? Which?
Bolivia has many sites that have produced fossil mammals; some are famous among paleontologists. The Salla site, dating from 25 million years ago, has produced the oldest remains of monkeys in South America. Fossil deposits near Tarija, less than a million years, have produced remains of extinct sloths, gliptodontes, horses and other giant extinct animals. We have worked elsewhere in the Altiplano and Eastern Cordillera that are intermediate in age in order to understand how neotropical mammals changed over the past 20 million years.