New turtle fossils found in Santa Elena
Edwin Cadena described turtle remains from Ecuadorian Pleistocene Epoch
In a new scientific publication from PeerJ, Edwin Cadena, faculty member of the School of Geological Sciences and Engineering at Yachay Tech University, described fossils of three lineages of turtles, including remains of a genuss never seen before in South America. The study took place in the Santa Elena Peninsula with the collaboration of Ph.D .Juan Abella and Ph.D. Maria D. Gregori, both from Universidad Estatal de Santa Elena
Edwin Cadena’s research was carried out in five different locations in Santa Elena, close to Atahualpa location, with the collaboration of Universidad Estatal de la Peninsula de Santa Elena. The study contributes to broaden the understanding of evolution and the different changes that took place in the biodiversity of the sothern coastal region of Ecuador. It also describes a new genre of turtles that migrated from North America to South America, but whose fossils where just found in the region for the first time.
This scientific publication is an opportunity to understand the changes in the pacific coast Ecuadorian biodiversity of the last 50 thousand years. These changes are related to families that originally lived in great part of the west south of Ecuador and Peru and that have slowly been geographically restricted to the point of being only confined to northern South America and North America. This effect may be due to the rise of aridity in this area specifically to this microclimate and ecological factors that may include human effects, which are still under study.
Among the remains reported on this study, the most interesting one is Chelydra, which arrived in South America around five million years ago through the Isthmus of Panama. Currently, Chelydra turtles are abundant in North and Central America, including the famous Cayman turtles. There’s only one species of this family currently living in the Ecuadorian and Colombian pacific margin in South America. Nonetheless, this is the first fossil found in the region, which will help estimate the environmental conditions under which this species adapted to this part of the continent.
This is a very important scientific publication for Edwin Cadena, as it represents an opportunity for Yachay Tech University to collaborate in scientific research with other universities from Ecuador. The role of Universidad Estatal de la Peninsula de Santa Elena in this research was crucial, and Edwin hopes that they can continue collaborating with them in other projects that will benefit geoturism and the conservation of Ecuador’s paleontological patrimony. This publication is also a good starting point in the quest for the history of biodiversity of the coastal region of Ecuador.