Vertebrate palaeontology in Central America: a narrative and analytical history
Published:January 01, 2017
Spencer G. Lucas, Guillermo E. Alvarado, 2017. "Vertebrate palaeontology in Central America: a narrative and analytical history", History of Geoscience: Celebrating 50 Years of INHIGEO, W. Mayer, R. M. Clary, L. F. Azuela, T. S. Mota, S. Wołkowicz
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Central American vertebrate fossils are primarily of late Cenozoic age and represent all of the major taxonomic groups of vertebrates. The vertebrate fossils of Central America play an important part in understanding the great American biotic interchange after the closure of the Panamanian isthmus. We divide the narrative history of vertebrate palaeontology in Central America into three periods: earliest discoveries (1858–1936); a developing record (1937–80); and a vertebrate palaeontological renaissance (1980–present). An analytical history, applying the ‘model’ proposed by Basalla of how science diffuses into any non-European nation, indicates a poor fit of Central American vertebrate palaeontology to this ‘model’. Central American vertebrate palaeontology mostly remains in the first phase of Basalla’s ‘model’, primarily providing vertebrate fossils for study by palaeontologists in the USA; phase 2 (colonial science) was essentially skipped and phase 3 (establishment of an independent scientific programme) is in an early stage. The development of vertebrate palaeontology in Central America better fits the idea that all three phases of Basalla’s ‘model’ are ongoing and intermingled. Vertebrate palaeontology is a science of little economic significance and this largely explains its slow development in Central America, where political instabilities and economic disadvantages have long affected the development of science.
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History of Geoscience: Celebrating 50 Years of INHIGEO
The study of the Earth’s origin, its composition, the processes that changed and shaped it over time and the fossils preserved in rocks, have occupied enquiring minds from ancient times. The contributions in this volume trace the history of ideas and the research of scholars in a wide range of geological disciplines that have paved the way to our present-day understanding and knowledge of the physical nature of our planet and the diversity of life that inhabited it.
To mark the 50th anniversary of the founding of the International Commission on the History of Geology, the book features contributions that give insights into its establishment and progress. In other sections authors reflect on the value of studying the history of the geosciences and provide accounts of early investigations in fields as diverse as tectonics, volcanology, geomorphology, vertebrate palaeontology and petroleum geology. Other papers discuss the establishment of geological surveys, the contribution of women to geology and biographical sketches of noted scholars in various fields of geoscience.