Tuesday, 4 October 2016

Horned armadillos and rafting monkeys

A giant caiman (Purussaurus neivensis) and small
litopterns (Megadolodus molariformis)
Illustration Velizar Simeonovski (C) 2016 by Darin A. Croft
I thoroughly recommend this new book on South American fossil mammals of the Caenozoic Era. Intended for a broad readership, it is a times fanciful. The full caption to the above figure reads, "A giant caiman (Purussaurus neivensis) finally strikes in a fury of mud and water after quietly approaching a group of small litopterns (Megadolodus molariformis) drinking at the river."

Indiana University Press ISBN 978-0-253-02084-0

The book is dedicated "to anyone who has ever wondered what a notoungulate looked like," which makes me the target audience. I read extensively about the fossil fauna when writing about the placentation of the extant species (here). The extinct families that lived side by side with marsupials and earlier xenarthrans were so unfamiliar as to seem wraith-like.

The xenungulate Carodnia vieirai from Itaboraí
Illustration Velizar Simeonovski (C) 2016 by Darin A. Croft
Darin A. Croft has worked closely with Velizar Simeonovski to bring extinct taxa to life. "The xenungulate Carodnia vieirai passes under the shadows of the dense vegetation of Itaboraí at high noon" is another example. This is the same artist who illustrated Extinct Madagascar (previous post).

After some introductory chapters the subject matter is arranged according to 15 fossiliferous localities. Conspicuously absent is Lagoa Santa in Brazil where the Danish palaeontologist P. W. Lund worked in the Nineteenth Century (here). His extensive Collection is housed at the Natural History Museum of Copenhagen University.

1 comment:

  1. i am from china with loving that.The extincted mammals in South America are so mysterious.would you like to show more details?