Fossil Record 20(1): 21-36, doi: 10.5194/fr-20-21-2016
Hermann Karsten (1817–1908): a German naturalist in the Neotropics and the significance of his paleovertebrate collection
expand article infoJorge Domingo Carrillo-Briceño, Eli Amson§, Alfredo Zurita|, Marcelo Ricardo Sánchez-Villagra
‡ Paleontological Institute and Museum, University of Zurich, Karl-Schmid-Strasse 4, Zürich, 8006, Switzerland§ Humboldt-Universität, AG Morphologie und Formengeschichte, Bild Wissen Gestaltung – ein interdisziplinäres Labor & Institut für Biologie, Philippstraße, 12/13, 10115 Berlin, Germany| Centro de Ecología Aplicada del Litoral (CECOAL-CONICET) and Universidad Nacional del Nordeste, Ruta 5, km. 2,5, 3400, Corrientes, Argentina
Open Access
During the mid-19th century, the German naturalist Hermann Karstenconducted a 12-year exploration (1844–1856) in the territories of Ecuador,New Granada (now Colombia) and Venezuela, allowing him to produce importantbotanic, geographic and geologic descriptions with valuable information thatpermits us to refer to him as a pioneer in many of these topics. With hisreturn to Europe, abundant geological, paleontological and living plantspecimens were brought and housed in European museums and botanical gardens.The Karsten collection included an important invertebrate collection from theCretaceous of the Andes of Colombia and Venezuela, which was studied andpublished by himself and the renowned German paleontologist Leopold von Buch,filling a large void in the knowledge about ancients faunas. H. Karsten'svertebrate collection was never illustrated or subjected to a detailedtaxonomic study, being mentioned in scientific publications in arepetitive mannerand with incorrect taxonomic and provenance information. More than 160 yearsafter they were collected, we carried out a taxonomic revision of allH. Karsten's vertebrate specimens from Colombia and Venezuela, which arehoused in the Museum of Natural History in Berlin. These specimens arerepresented by cranial and postcranial elements of megafauna, which includeMegatheriidae, Mylodontidae and Glyptodontidae (Xenarthra), Toxodontidae(Notoungulata), Gomphotheriidae (Proboscidea), and many other indeterminatemammal remains. This revision is intended to clarify the taxonomy andprovenance of the specimens, emphasizing the historical importance of thisfossil collection and its significance for the paleontology of the region.