A CENTRAL goal of paleontological research on the marine biota of tropical America is to recognize and interpret evolutionary patterns associated with closure of the Central American Isthmus, and more broadly with regional environmental changes caused by the developing barrier (Cronin, 1985; Vermeij, 1987; Jung, 1989; Jackson et al., 1993, 1996a; Collins and Coates, 1999). Much of the work to date has focussed on documenting large-scale trends in biodiversity over the past 25 million years (e.g., Budd and Johnson, 1999; Cheetham et al. 1999; Jackson and Johnson, 2000); however, the underlying systematics of most taxa used in...

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