The Panama Paleontology Project (PPP)
The PPP was begun in 1986 by Jeremy Jackson and Anthony Coates of the Smithsonian
Tropical Research Institute (STRI)
as a multidisciplinary project studying the nature, timing, and magnitude
of evolutionary events associated with closure of the isthmus of Panama.
Since the project began, its aims have expanded to encompass the general
biotic history of tropical America and how it has been influenced by environmental
change. PPP collecting is ongoing and involves one or more trips per year
to key Miocene to Recent sequences in Central America, South America, and
the Caribbean. The actual collecting process involves a unique team effort.
Detailed columns are constructed for each sequence (A.G. Coates); sampling
of microfossils (L.S. Collins) and macrofossils (P. Jung, J.B.C. Jackson,
A.F. Budd) is standardized so as to minimize bias; and geologic age dates
are obtained by integrating data on planktic foraminifera (W.A. Berggren,
Woods Hole), nannofossils (M.P. Aubry, Montpellier, France), paleomagnetics
(D.F. McNeill, U. Miami), and strontium isotopes (coordinated by D.F. McNeill).
Sampling and locality information are entered in a database (managed by L.S. Collins at Florida International
University). These data include more than 500,000 specimens since
1992. After collection, samples are sent from STRI to designated PPP systematists
and research teams for identification including: Aguilera (fish), Budd
(zooxanthellate corals), Cairns (azooxanthellate corals), Cheetham &
Jackson (bryozoans), Collins (benthic foraminifera), Cronin (ostracodes),
and Jung and Todd (molluscs). After the specimens are prepared and identified,
more detailed studies of the systematics and evolution of selected taxa
are conducted by individual PPP
researchers. After study, all micro- and macrofossils except molluscs
and fish are deposited at the NMNH;
mollusc and fish specimens are deposited at the NMB.
For details about the current status of collections and specimens, see
the homepage for each individual taxonomic group.
The PPP collections have served as the basis for two volumes:
(1) Jackson, J.B.C., A.F. Budd & A.G. Coates, eds. 1996. Evolution
and Environment in Tropical America. Univ. Chicago Press, Chicago, 425pp.
(2) Collins, L.S. & A.G. Coates, eds. 1999. A Paleobiotic Survey
of Caribbean Faunas from the Neogene of the Isthmus of Panama. Bulletins
of American Paleontology, no. 357, 351pp.
The PPP maintains a contribution
series of publications based on collections made by the PPP.
Last updated on August 2006 -afb.
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