Tetrapods of the Red Hills Road Cave, Jamaica (Late Pleistocene)
Cranium , Volume 36 - Issue 1 p. 49- 57
Two students, Anita Godwin and Marlene Britton, found the Red Hills Road Cave (RHRC) near Kingston, Jamaica, in 1988. Caves are a common feature of the karstified limestone landscape of Jamaica. Fossil tetrapods are known from the Eocene, after which the island was inundated for 40 million years. The tetrapods that have recolonized the island after its re-emergence about 10 million years ago are dominated by those that can fly (birds, bats) and small taxa that could travel across wide expanses of sea on floating ‘sweepstake routes’ (amphibians, reptiles, small mammals). Fossil evidence of these taxa is limited to caves and are commonly less than 100,000 years old. The most fossiliferous of these sites is the Red Hills Road Cave in the parish of St Andrew, near Kingston. This has yielded a diversity of land snails (62 species), and rare, well-preserved arthropods such as millipedes and isopods. Vertebrates are preserved as an ‘Irish Stew’ of disarticulated bones. Amphibians are rare, but the mandibles of lizards are common. Birds, at least eight species, include the extinct flightless ibis Xenicibis xympithecus Olson & Steadman, the Jamaican tody and members of at least five other groups. The only land mammal is the rodent Geocapromys brownii (Fischer). Four species of bat provide evidence of extirpation and extinction.
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