Free Content Cypraeidae of the Indo-Pacific: Cenozoic Fossil History and Biogeography

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The cowries (Cypraeidae) of the Indo-Pacific are described in terms of their origins in the Tethys and Indonesian Tertiary, and their distribution in space in the Tertiary and today. Twenty-one species groups are identified in the discussion. The earliest Indo-Pacific cowries are recorded in the Palaeocene of Pakistan and India, then part of the Tethys Sea. In Indonesia the earliest cowries are Middle Miocene. Six of 18 species groups were represented in Pakistan-India. First occurrence of four species groups occurs in Indonesia; six groups appear contemporaneously in the Pacific and in Australia. Five groups present in the Indonesian Miocene and Pliocene are now extinct in Indonesia, although species in two groups, Barycypraea and Zoila, live today in the Indian Ocean and Australia respectively. The distribution of cowries in the Indo-Pacific is not random. The patterns of spatial distribution in the fossil record and of Recent endemism in the central Pacific and Indian Ocean indicate speciation occurred beyond the geographical boundaries of the Malay Archipelago and provide support for Ladd's hypothesis of the importance of peripheral speciation in the Indo-Pacific.

Document Type: Research Article

Publication date: July 1, 1990

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