The Lost World

A while ago I mentioned that there might be unrecognized survivors of South America’s local placental lineages (Meridiungulata and Xenarthra). Unrecognized because very divergent, like golden moles, which are Afrotheria. Shoot, maybe even metatherians or some relative of necrolestes.

But where to look? Tepuis might be good candidates. They’re remnants of a sandstone plateau that once covered the area between the north border of the Amazon basin and the Orinoco. These mesas are isolated from the surrounding forest and have lots of endemic flora and fauna. Some have almost constant cloud cover and have hardly been explored.

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28 Responses to The Lost World

  1. TWS says:

    It’s where the area 51 people got bat boy.

  2. NobodyExpectsThe... says:

    Very interesting topic the Tepuis and the surronding area. Always liked the story about the search for El Dorado and how the Angel Falls were discovered.

    But as with other subjects I remember you mentioning (arqueology in Syria and Iraq), maybe not the best of times for expeditions in Venezuela in the near future.

  3. ursiform says:

    Well, Greg, it looks like your post pretty much said it all. Your posse is mostly at a loss to even respond!

  4. Dave Pinsen says:

    How about a GoFundMe to get Greg in a pith helmet exploring these mesas with a camera crew in tow?

  5. Sandgroper says:

    How come Facebook is not full of pictures of pink fairy armadillos (Chlamyphorus truncatus)?

  6. et.cetera says:

    This explorer stuff is so last century.

  7. Opferstraße says:

    I wish for pygmy sebecid land crocodile to be found. The small cryptomammals need a predator.

  8. BB753 says:

    You know the big price is Kong, Greg: yuuge primates make the news. Not sloths or pigmy elephants. What exactly do you have in mind?

  9. Dale Force says:

    Professor Challenger brought back a pterodactyl to Albert Hall.

  10. Steve Sailer says:

    Pixar’s “Up” winds up on one of those plateaus.

  11. Aristocrat of the Pond Slime says:

    The Australian native moles might be necrolestids: they are at least non-therians IMO.

    Afrotheria is not supported by morphological data: Macroscelideans (from Paleogene Apheliscidae) and Tethytheres are both part of an ungulate clade still, and Tenrecomorphs (Tenrecids, Chrysochlorids and Bibimalagasia) are extremely primitive, perhaps even more than Xenarthrans. Aaardvarks resemble ungulates in some ways but are descended from Ptolemaid “shrews” such as Kelba. So there are three odd groups of mammals lumped as Afrotheria. (Meridiungulates and perissodactyls are otherwise close to tethytheres.)

    This is in spite of morphological support for things like Ferae and Glires. You have to constrain the tree to recover Afrotheria which is a bad sign, and leaves the relationships of fossil eutherians in a mess.

    • gcochran9 says:

      Screw morphological data: there’s a zillion times more info in the DNA.

      DNA data would (correctly) classify canine venereal sarcoma (CVT) as a canine.
      I doubt if morphological analysis would !

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