Abstract

We report the discovery of an extremely rich, previously undescribed Caribbean late Miocene to early Pliocene ichthyofauna represented by one hundred forty species of elasmobranchs and teleosteans from the Cubagua Formation, northeastern Venezuela. The fauna exhibits significant ecological differences compared with common neritic Caribbean Neogene assemblages. The bathymetric distributions of taxa, based on living counterparts, ranges from 0 to 100 m depth. The exceptional co-occurrence of deep water (epipelagic, mesopelagic and benthopelagic), and shallow water (neritic) taxa is best interpreted as the consequence of ocean upwelling in the proximity to the deep-water Cariaco Trench. Patterns of predator and prey are established and corroborate upwelling. Special remarks are made regarding previously unknown late Miocene to early Pliocene Caribbean ichthyofaunas, the absence or rarity of reported fossil taxa in the Recent Caribbean fauna, and a paleo- upwelling indicator (Lampadena jacksoni new species).

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