Fossil Representative of Puerto Rico
Corozal Rat (common name)
Puertoricomys corozalus (scientific name)
Puertoricomys is an extinct genus of West Indian rodent.Puertoricomys belongs to the taxonomic family of spiny rats, the Echimyidae. Although spiny rats resemble rats in appearance, they are more closely related to modern chinchillas and guinea pigs.
Puertoricomys corozalus is commonly called the Corozal rat due to the location where its fossil remains were first discovered, Puerto Rico’s Corozal Limestone Quarry. This species once inhabited Puerto Rico and is known from only one fossil specimen from the island. This means that details about the mammal are few and uncertain.
Puerto Rico, like the other U.S. territories, does not have an abundance of fossils and has not designated an official fossil. However, because Puertoricomys corozalus is known only from one fossil specimen, discovered on the island in 1930, this species makes an excellent representative of the geology, paleontology, and history of Puerto Rico.
The species Puertoricomys corozalus was named in 1951 by Ernest Williams of Harvard University’s Museum of Comparative Zoology and American professor, museum curator, and mammalogist Karl F. Koopman. The species name comes from the location the only known fossil specimen was found, Corozal Limestone Quarry in central-eastern Puerto Rico.
This rodent is believed to have lived as early as the Pliocene epoch, approximately five million years ago, but may be much more recent. Some scientists date Puertoricomys corozalus’s first appearance to the Holocene epoch, which would mean this rodent appeared no more than 10,000 years ago. Still others state that Puertoricomysmay be the most primitive West Indian rodent. It is, however, generally referred to as a Pleistocene (10,000 to 2.6 million years ago) species.
A native species of Puerto Rico, Puertoricomys corozalus quickly became extinct when European settlers introduced the non-native black rat in the late 15th century. Puerto Rico is the only island of the Greater Antilles to have lost all of its native, pre-human Quaternary terrestrial mammals.
|Author: World Trade Press|