Re: NANFA-- Re: Books on the evolution and distribution of NA

Christopher Scharpf (
Fri, 15 Aug 2003 07:46:03 -0400

> The resource people on this list are terrific. Without taking too much of
> anyone's time, could they off hand suggest sources of information on the
> development and distribution of North American fishes.


> Also interested in how continental drift might have had a role in these
> things.

Continental drift played a big role. Ancestors to North America's present
day archaic or "fossil" fishes - lampreys, sturgeons, paddlefish, bowfin,
and gars - hail from Pangaea, the supercontinent in which all the world's
continents had been fused 180 million years ago. Forty or so million years
later, while Pangaea was splitting into a northern landmass, Laurasia (the
future North America, Europe and Asia), and a southern landmass,
Gondwanaland (the future South America, Africa, India, Australia, and
Antarctica), various modern freshwater fish groups began to develop. On
Laurasia these consisted of what would later become today's pikes,
mudminnows, pirate perch, trout-perch, cavefishes, and salmonids (salmon,
trout, ciscoes, and whitefishes). Other fish families - most notably
minnows, suckers and perches - arrived here via one (or both) land
"bridges" that connected northern North America to Eurasia at various times
across the Atlantic Ocean and the Bering Strait. Characins and other
neotropical fishes began entering North America about 14 million years ago,
when the uplift of Central America connected North and South America for the
first time since their Pangaean days.

Hope this helps,

Chris Scharpf
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