Overview of NMITA

The Neogene Marine Biota of Tropical America ("NMITA") WWW Site contains images and information on taxa collected as part of two large multi-taxa fossil sampling programs: (1) the Panama Paleontology Project (PPP) coordinated by the Smithsonian Tropical Research Institute in Panama; (2) the Dominican Republic (DR) project coordinated by the Natural History Museum in Basel, Switzerland. The NMITA database and web servers are located in the Geology Department at the University of Iowa. NMITA is designed for use in education and research in systematics and evolutionary paleontology. Partial information is currently available for bryozoans, corals (zooxanthellate and azooxanthellate), molluscs (gastropods and bivalves), and ostracodes. Users may click on taxa to receive conventional taxonomic information on authorship, synonyms, morphology, type specimens, and spatial and temporal distribution. Alternatively they may click on maps and stratigraphic columns to receive faunal lists for specific horizons. From these lists, the user may click on species to return to conventional taxonomic information. A simple image-based search routine is also provided to assist in identifying zooxanthellate coral genera. Other search routines are under development.

The collections made by the PPP and DR sampling projects were selected for NMITA because of their unique importance in analyzing changes in tropical marine biodiversity through geologic time. Sampling followed standardized protocols designed to estimate relative abundances of taxa within each stratigraphic horizon. Geologic ages have been determined by high resolution dating methods integrating the results of microfossils, paleomagnetics, and strontium isotope analyses. Ongoing study of evolutionary patterns in several different marine invertebrate groups represented in these collections has revealed that a major episode of accelerated faunal turnover occurred in the Caribbean and eastern Pacific regions during Plio-Pleistocene time. Preliminary results suggest that the episode was caused by interrelated environmental and climatic factors associated with closure of the isthmus of Panama and the onset of northern hemisphere glaciation. The PPP collections are housed at the U.S. National Museum of Natural History (NMNH) of the Smithsonian Institution in Washington, D.C. and at the Natural History Museum in Basel, Switzerland (NMB); the DR project collections are housed at the NMB.

  • NMITA Database Organization and Model
  • NMITA Server Information
  • NMITA Staff and Contributors
  • NMITA Instructions for Contributors
  • NMITA Policy and Conditions of Use
  • NMITA Usage Data

  • Last updated on June 18, 1998-afb.

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