Abstract

This newly described chondrichthyan fauna from the late Miocene Chucunaque Formation of Lago Bayano reveals a prolific and highly diverse assemblage from Panama, and one of the richest shark faunas from the Neotropics. Strontium geochronology indicates an age of 10–9.5 Ma for the chonrichthyan-bearing strata. Field efforts resulted in 1429 identifiable specimens comprising at least 31 taxa, of which at least eight are new to the documented fossil record of Panama. With this information an analysis of functional diversity was conducted, indicating ecosystems dominated by generalist species feeding upon a wide range of organisms, from plankton to marine mammals. A probabilistic approach of paleobathymetric estimation suggests a neritic environment. Previous studies based on foraminifera have suggested that the Chucunaque Formation had a greater Pacific Ocean affinity, making this the first Miocene chondrichthyan fauna described from the Pacific shelf of Panama. However, our geographic comparisons show that this fauna has mixed Caribbean and Pacific biogeographic affinities, which likely supports the previously purported connection between chondrichthyan faunas during the late Miocene.

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