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Open Access Publications from the University of California

Monkeys on a free-floating island in a Colombian river: further support for over-water colonization

  • Author(s): Ali, Jason;
  • Fritz, Uwe;
  • Vargas-Ramirez, Mario
  • et al.

Further to the debate associated with the viability of land-bound mammals being able to colonize remote frontiers by way of long-distance over-water dispersal, observations are documented of monkeys (red howlers, Alouatta seniculus) occupying free-standing trees within a large floating island on the Magdalena River in north-west Colombia. Also, we contribute to the discussion related to the 15.0–12.5 Ma (Middle Miocene) arrival of the howler monkeys in Central America, which is well before the Panama Isthmus had fully emerged 3.0–2.8 Ma (Late Pliocene). We speculate it was by way of a raft similar to the ones reported here, possibly from a river entering the sea from northern Colombia.

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